cover image Pirate Girl

Pirate Girl

Cornelia Funke, , illus. by Kerstin Meyer, trans. by Chantal Wright. . Scholastic/Chicken House, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-71672-7

Captain Firebeard, helmsman Morgan O'Meany and the crew of the Horrible Haddock make "the knees of honest seafaring folk... shake like jelly." But they meet their match in Molly, a small but sturdy girl whose thick auburn ponytails rival the Captain's bushy beard. Like a Little Red Riding Hood of the high seas, Molly is sailing a skiff to her grandmother's house when she is snared "like a herring" and tossed aboard the Haddock for ransom. "If I told you my mother's name,... you'd cry like a baby!" Molly snarls, to the pirates' hearty but short-lived amusement. Funke and Meyer, whose The Princess Knight sets a precedent for this feisty heroine, do not expect Molly to defeat her kidnappers single-handed. Instead, Molly sends messages in empty rum bottles until her mother, the operatically outsize Barbarous Bertha, arrives with an imposing and equally scurvy lot of pirate women. Against the changeable turquoise-to-blue-gray sea and white sky, the blazing-orange hair of Molly, Firebeard and Bertha makes them centers of attention, and readers will notice a black cat becoming Molly's silent ally. Funke and Meyer convey the pirates' surly toughness while hinting at a fierce mother-daughter bond. Ages 3-5. (June)