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PIRATES VS. COWBOYS by Aaron Reynolds


by Aaron Reynolds ; illustrated by David Barneda

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: March 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-375-85874-1
Publisher: Knopf

Argot issues nearly spark a brawl in this addition to the trendy “head-to-head mashup” genre.

These antagonists confront one another not on the base paths as in Mark Summers and Aaron Frisch’s Pirates at the Plate (2012) but on the dusty streets of Old Cheyenne. They square off after noxious Capt. Burnt Beard’s uncharacteristically civil “Be ye knowin’ where we’d be findin’ a fair scrub and a swish?” is greeted with an uncomprehending sneer by Black Bob McKraw and his band of rustlers—themselves “nastier than week-old chili, and twice as gassy.” It seems pirates don’t speak cowboy, and cowboys don’t speak pirate. Happily, the opportune arrival of Pegleg Highnoon, “the world’s only pirate cowboy,” literally clears the air as he insults both gangs in their respective jargons. Having found common ground (“Yes, it was their stench. But it was a start”), all head amicably for the town’s only bathhouse and saloon. Using muddy colors to provide an unwashed look, Barneda pits a scurvy crew of sea creatures led by an octopus against a posse of prairie critters headed up by a scowling bull. All are dressed in occupation-appropriate duds, including Highnoon (a generic-looking reptile presumably intended to be a marine iguana), who sports a mix of iconic gear from peg leg to Stetson.

A refreshingly atypical exercise in waging peace, despite the tired “X vs. Y” scenario. (Picture book. 6-8)