A lad bearing the “curse” of unfailing politeness wages peace in this graphic version of a 2002 novel.
Much trimmed from its original, the tale sweeps Horrendo and the other 12-year-olds in his ill-tempered town aboard a pirate ship that puts in regularly to pillage and replenish its crew. Being cursed at birth by a “wise woman” annoyed at everyone’s hostility, he cannot curse, swear or hurt anyone—but he can cook like a pro and also concoct clever, if not always successful, escape plans. Ultimately, he beguiles the salty pirates with tasty victuals and kindness, leads them to hidden treasure and at last returns in triumph to his town. There, he helps to found a tavern with pirate gold and to revise the local school’s curriculum to include classes in (wait for it) anger management. The story still bears a heavy message. Still, thanks to the tongue-in-cheek premise, a cast with names like Blusta and Mongrel, some colorful invective (“Now get off my ship, you bottom-dwelling swill-suckers!”) and the uncomplicated humor in Simard’s angular cartoons, it manages to stay afloat.
Just a sketch of the earlier plotline remains, but the pictures make the action easy to follow, and the theme is as sweet as Horrendo’s delectable French toast. (Graphic novel. 9-11)