cover image The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate

The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate

Scott Nash. Candlewick, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7636-3264-9

Picture book creator Nash (The Cat in the Rhinestone Suit) offers a charming illustrated novel set in a world filled with anthropomorphic avian pirates. Blue Jay, the notorious captain of the airship Grosbeak, has been collecting eggs for years as he robs from the evil oligarchs in Thrushia. He rarely lets them hatch (and is happy to perpetuate the myth that he cannibalistically consumes them), but when his navigator, Junco, is compelled to nurse one particular egg, the entire crew has to care for Gabriel, a rare gosling. Their adventures take them into contact with everything from dangerous fisher cats and a dirt-loving mole on the ground to bats and crows in the air. Nash creates a wholly original and fully realized world in its own right, though it's hard to avoid comparisons to previous anthropomorphic animal tales; as with Redwall, scenes of violence and death intermix with the whimsy of the concept. That neither element overwhelms the other is a testament to Nash's aptitude, and readers should long remember the novel's endearing characters, which appear throughout in his gracefully integrated full color pen-and-ink art. Ages 9%E2%80%9313. (Sept.)