cover image Pirate Princess

Pirate Princess

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illus. by Jill McElmurry. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-114242-0

For bookish tomboy Princess Bea, the seven seas beat the stuffy palace any day. In Bardhan-Quallen’s (Hampire!) story, which unfolds in steady if uninspired rhymed couplets, the young royal follows her dream with gusto when she climbs aboard “a real-live pirate ship.” However, she fails as a deck swabber and is a queasy lookout: “The crow’s nest swayed with every gust,/ A gentle rocking motion./ Bea clutched the mast, and then she just.../ Heave-hoed into the ocean.” (Contrary to the verse, the vertically oriented spread shows Bea unloading her lunch onto the beleaguered Captain Jack.) Just when she’s about to walk the plank, the crew discovers that Bea has a “nose for treasure”—X marks the spot in this tale’s happy ending. McElmurry’s (Who Stole Mona Lisa?) angular pirates are (literally) a colorful lot, sporting hair in punk rock shades, earrings, buckles, and elaborate footwear. The composition of the spreads is fairly conventional; highlights include a page dedicated to the awful meal Bea cooks and a worm’s-eye-view of the treasure digging. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Wernick & Pratt Agency. (May)