cover image Small Saul

Small Saul

Ashley Spires. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55453-503-3

This misfit comedy pits a sweet-tempered pirate against a boatful of ruffians. The diminutive, bespectacled pirate Saul tears up at his graduation from Pirate College; on board The Rusty Squid, he offers bandages to injured pirates, flowers and cookies to maidens whose jewels his colleagues have stolen, and nutritious meals to his crew. For his efforts, the captain throws him off the ship. As a result, "mold began to build up on the ship's deck. The crew was back to eating bland gruel and rat-nibbled bread." Spires's (Binky the Space Cat) prose is smartly paced, and her ink and watercolor spots and panels amplify the text with gentle humor. (As the pirates realize how much Saul has done for them, a rat turns Saul's trusty bandage box upside down%E2%80%94it's empty.) When The Rusty Squid returns to rescue Saul, he forgives the crew promptly: "They were pirates, after all. Throwing people overboard is just something they do." Spires does a credible job of figuring out how a pirate like Saul might fit in, and there's plenty of raucous entertainment to keep pirate-lovers happy. Ages 3%E2%80%937%E2%80%93. (Mar.)