cover image The Ballad of the Pirate Queens

The Ballad of the Pirate Queens

Jane Yolen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200710-2

This rollicking ballad springs from an actual incident: captured in 1720 aboard the sloop Vanity when their dilatory mates ""below, did drink and sport,"" the ``pirate queens'' Anne Bonney and Mary Reade escaped hanging because they were pregnant. Author and artist imagine them later, roughhousing with their grandchildren, while their fellow pirates are fated to sail a ghost ship (""And silver the coins and silver the moon,/ Silver the waves on the top of the sea,/ When the ghostly ship comes sailing in,/ That gallant Vanity""). Yolen and Shannon sail a different course than the one they plotted for the darker and more tragic Encounter (1992). Yolen approaches this almost farcical incident in simple, occasionally rough verse. Ironic in their stateliness, Shannon's paintings-framed, captioned in a scrawled script and otherwise composed to evoke the 18th century-display a sly humor; Mary and Anne in profile ""pleading their bellies"" before a judge will elicit chuckles. Not for everyone, but offbeat and grimly amusing. Ages 4-12. Children's BOMC featured selection. (Apr.)