Get ready for a breathlessly paced pirate adventure starring Shivers, who is terrified of just about everything.
The fearful 11-year-old, the youngest in his family of pirates, begins the story with an overreaction to his beeping alarm clock. The liberal use of capitalized dialogue (“LOAD THE CANNONS! SWAB THE POOP DECK!”) makes it clear that Shivers is easily freaked out. When a carrier pigeon delivers a plea for help from his parents, he goes to the police station for some help. Good thing spunky Margo, two years his junior and the police chief’s daughter, is craving some true adventure. The unlikely duo sets sail and encounters colorful characters. Here the authors’ language often impresses with its rich and humorous descriptions: “In a deep voice that sounded like pancake syrup dripping down a jagged rock, he bellowed, ‘…I am Captain Pokes-You-in-the-Eye!’ ” Man-eating sharks, a giant squid and a villain with a passion for mustard are all part of the over-the-top journey. Cartoonish illustrations in black and white by Holden further emphasize the crazy antics that rapidly move the characters on until their heroic climb of the Statue of Liberty and one final, colossal panic attack that brings the slapstick story to a tidy conclusion.
While the premise is initially hard to accept given its pure ridiculousness, fans of Captain Underpants and the Wimpy Kid may find Shivers more hilarious than overwrought. (Fiction. 8-11)