cover image PIRATES


C. Drew Lamm, , illus. by Stacey Schuett. . Hyperion, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0392-7

In Lamm's (The Prog Frince) spooky yet sprightly tale-within-a-tale, Ellery brings home a library book about pirates, which her brother Max suggests they read in the morning. But the spunky lass insists that they read it "tonight in the dark when we're alone." By flashlight, the girl reads to her terrified sibling the story of Gaspar, who "loots ships that hold treasure and murders anyone who tries to hold on to their gold." Repeatedly interrupting the story, Max attempts to divert its track onto more placid waters, while Ellery determinedly steers it back toward stormier seas. (e.g., " 'He buries his treasures in...' 'Treasure chests,' guessed Max. 'Coffins,' said Ellery"). Peering through the window, Max observes that it might rain and proposes that they read something else, but the relentless Ellery shrugs off his suggestion: "Thunder'll probably crack the house open." Yet relent she does, in a light denouement that entails a droll role reversal. Though Schuett (Purple Mountain Majesties) sprinkles the artwork with skeletons, ravens and bug-eyed pirates, she infuses her pictures with humorous hyperbole more likely to amuse than frighten youngsters. Still, some kids may choose to heed Lamm's sly warning on the back flap: "Do not read this book right before bed or during wild storms." Others will happily snuff out the lamp and grab the flashlight. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)