cover image PIRATE DIARY: The Journal of Jake Carpenter

PIRATE DIARY: The Journal of Jake Carpenter

Richard Platt, , illus. by Chris Riddell. . Candlewick, $17.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0848-4

The duo behind Castle Diary returns with a swashbuckling sortie into pirate waters. Set in 1716, the tale unfolds through the diary entries of a nine-year-old North Carolina lad who goes to sea with his uncle. Young Jake's excitement dims when wicked Captain Nick exacts a cruel penalty for clumsiness (Jake accidentally drops a bucket overboard), flogging his Uncle Will in Jake's stead and setting him adrift. The tables are turned, however, when pirates capture the ship and abandon Captain Nick on an island. Jake and his shipmates take up with their captors, and there are adventures aplenty, including a mermaid sighting, a storm, a raid on a Spanish camp and an eventual reunion with Will. With seeming effortlessness, Platt weaves vast quantities of nautical information into a text as lively as it is absorbing ("In pirates' slang there are one hundred words for 'drunk' and just one for 'sober' "). While he does not romanticize piracy, the author displays a keen eye for the sort of gorier details that young buccaneers will relish, e.g., the primitive surgery performed by the ship's carpenter. Making exuberant use of the oversize format, Riddell's illustrations include spot illustrations, dramatic full-page and full-spread scenes and a detailed cutaway view of the ship. With their verve and puckish humor, they easily transport readers to high times on the high seas. Ages 9-13.(Oct.)