cover image Pirates Don’t Say Please!

Pirates Don’t Say Please!

Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton, illus. by Adrian Tans. Pelican, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58980-982-6

Pirates may not say please, but neither do they say anything particularly diverting in Knowlton’s (I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word) flat-footed, manners-themed story. Dressed as a pirate, a boy named Billy ignores his mother’s request that he wash his hands before lunch. “Back away from me bounty, poppet, and I’ll spare your life,” he shouts, stealing a chicken leg from the kitchen. His mother, in turn, banishes him to his room: “To the brig, you scallywag... You’ll be set free when you return my polite son.” Billy lives out his pirate fantasies in an imaginary trip, where his ill manners alienate those who would have helped him. However, Billy does just fine on his own, stealing a boat and finding buried treasure, making his about-face in the book’s final scene both abrupt and unlikely. Tans’s (The Emperor’s Army) paintings, though somewhat unpolished, smoothly bridge the story’s transitions from contemporary to swashbuckling times. The art’s closeup focus on Billy and his shifting emotions give a sure sense of the boy’s rambunctious personality. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)