cover image Edward and the Pirates

Edward and the Pirates

David M. McPhail. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-56344-4

Readers young and old will love the swashbuckling verve and intrepid adventure of this loving tribute to the power of books to fuel the imagination. A sequel to Santa's Book of Names, the book is filled with large, shadowy acrylics awash with heroic figures in poses reminiscent of N.C. Wyeth's grand illustrations. The story itself, however, begins on a domestic note, with a child's utter satisfaction in knowing how to read: ""Once Edward learned to read, there was no stopping him. Cereal boxes at the breakfast table... seed catalogues... and books-all kinds of books."" Sometimes, however, what Edward reads seems ""to become real."" One night he imagines himself at the helm of a pirate ship and suddenly finds his room filled with menacing pirates in search of his pirate book. Like a storybook hero himself, he bravely protects the coveted volume (""It's checked out on my library card-you'll have to wait till I return it""). Edward's rescue by his parents-dressed very much like Joan of Arc and Robin Hood, whose tales he has been reading-ends with owlish Edward taking pity on the pirates. The illustrations burst with drama: the pirates in full regalia loom over Edward in his bed; Edward's teddy bear mimes the boy's reactions, especially when they are told to walk the plank. McPhail maintains throughout a misty, twilight glow, creating a sort of subterranean mystery appropriate to events of the subconscious. Both spirited and merry, this cleverly plotted homage to the pure joy of reading will be proof of the dictum that one book opens another. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)