A clever lad leads his classmates and a pirate who crawls in through the window to troves of hidden treasure.
Heaps of gold coins do make a shiny stand-in for the “treasures” more likely to be found in a classroom, but a yarn in which the good guy is signaled by a false disability and the bad guy by a real one belongs in Davy Jones’ locker. Taking advantage of teacher Ms. Bitsy’s momentary absence, Capt. Calamity—dressed with proper swash and buckle in the cartoon illustrations but only holding the requisite hook in his hand—arrives in search of a treasure in the classroom buried, he’s been told, “under the sea.” Fruitless ransacking ensues until at last young Alex, contemplating the alphabet pinned to the wall, realizes that the clue is actually “under the C.” Indeed, pulling a lever beneath the letter opens a watery gulf under the floorboards, where the children (and their equally enthusiastic teacher) find a chest of gold coins. Better yet, after Ms. Bitsy sternly sends off bullying rival Pirate Bloodloss, a menacing figure with an actual peg leg, by threatening to tell his parents (“Argh! Not Mommy,” he whimpers), Alex has a further golden alphabetical insight: “X always marks the spot!” If nothing else, the captain “hooks” Ms. Bitsy, who’s simpering, “Call me Daphne” by the final scene. Alex and the grown-ups are white, but Whitehouse depicts the rest of the class with a mix of light and dark skin.
A lubberly outing, stereotypewise. (Picture book. 5-7)