cover image How to Be a Pirate

How to Be a Pirate

Isaac Fitzgerald, illus. by Brigette Barrager. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-68119-778-4

The boys won’t let CeCe play pirate, so she runs to her seafaring grandfather to get the lowdown on what it takes to yo-ho-ho. Using his tattoos as visual aids, Grandpa describes all the qualities a great pirate must possess. On one muscular arm is inked a majestic ship; a pirate must be “BRAVE!” he says, and CeCe imagines the cozy kitchen, rendered in muted tones, as a prow barreling through spiral-scrolled, fish-festooned waves. A tattoo of a panther illustrates a pirate’s need for speed; CeCe imagines swinging on a jungle vine, “ready to react to danger at any moment.” But most important, Grandpa says, is having the confidence that comes from being loved—and he has the heart-shaped tattoo inscribed with “CeCe” to prove it. Fitzgerald (Pen & Ink for adults) and Barrager (Vlad the Rad) hit their closing self-esteem message a little bluntly at the end (“I’m brave! I’m quick! I’m independent, and I’m fun!” CeCe shouts), and the inclusion of a winking Spanish dancer tattoo as emblematic of “fun” strikes an odd note, but the pages are filled with bright colors, soaring spirits, and a timely feminist message. Ages 3–6. [em](Mar.) [/em]