cover image The Pirate Queen

The Pirate Queen

Emily Arnold McCully. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22657-1

Gifted at breathing life into a remote past, Caldecott Medalist McCully (Mirette on the High Wire) once again reaches into the grab bag of history-and unabashedly embroidered legend-emerging with this swashbuckling tale of Grania O'Malley, Ireland's famed lady pirate. Her larger-than-life career is chronicled here from birth in 1530 (her mother reputedly noted that the babe had ""the light of the sea in her eyes"") and early days sailing and marauding with her father, through marriage and childbirth (on the high seas of course), building and losing an empire (half a dozen castles), imprisonment and, finally, meeting her worthy contemporary, Elizabeth I of England, to whom she pleaded her case and won her bold gamble to return to the high seas. McCully writes with great flair, and her sweeping watercolors capitalize on the historical drama. Whether depicting the misty Irish seas or an exciting shipboard melee, her artwork bestows on Grania's life the big-screen effect it deserves. What a woman, what a tale. Hollywood, are you listening? Ages 4-8. (Oct.)