cover image Everything I Know about Pirates

Everything I Know about Pirates

Tom Lichtenheld. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82625-2

Newcomer Lichtenheld's picture book spoof of a reference on all things piratical will shiver the timbers and tickle the funnybones of those salts, both young and old, with a penchant for silliness. Waltzing through a compendium of merry myths about the terrors of the high seas, Lichtenheld sends up everything from buccaneers' wardrobes (holey boots ""ventilated to prevent toe crud""; the origins of ""scaredy pants"") to their surly looks (""the Pirate Sneer"") and their loot (""gold coins, jewelry, and high-end Japanese electronics""), all to mirthful visual accompaniment. He traces the evolution of the pirate flag (the ""1620 Hot Dog and Crossbones"" was an abject failure, due to the fact that it was ""not very scary""), and provides a handy do-it-yourself pirate name chart (because the pirates are ""not going to let you in with a name like Nathan or Ashley""). The off-the-cuff commentary maintains a rapid-fire, gag-a-minute pace that dips into the kind of crudeness certain youngsters crave (polka dots on pirates' hankie headscarves ""are actually old booger stains""), and the jaunty cartoon illustrations, rendered against a parchment-like backdrop in ink, colored pencil, gouache, pastels ""and ear wax,"" as the copyright page notes, raise the threshold for zaniness. Boisterous fun from fore to aft. Ages 4-8. (May)