Captain No Beard and his loyal crew hit the high seas amid tears, change, and friendship in Roman’s (Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis, 2014) newest pirate picture book.
When their latest ocean trip commences, Captain No Beard can’t find his loyal mate Fribbet the Frog. A team search reveals he’s hiding on the ship, crying. When his shipmates ask what’s wrong, he says he’s scared. The crew then lists assorted things he could be afraid of—the dark, snakes, loud noises, etc.—and reassure him that it’s OK to be scared. The support of friends is endearing, and the illustration of Polly Parrot with her wings around Fribbet is particularly heartwarming. The discussion between Fribbet and his friends shows that for every fear a child can have, it’s likely that his or her friends share the same concern. Being brave enough to share those worries with your friends makes them less scary. When Fribbet begins to describe the appearance of eggs in his home—eggs that hatched to become tadpoles and, by now, little frogs—Captain No Beard realizes Fribbet is merely reacting to the unknown of becoming a big brother. Captain No Beard has a strong bond with his little sister, cabin girl Cayla, which he uses to help Fribbet understand that becoming a big brother isn’t all bad. In the end, a surprise twist brings closure to Fribbet’s situation, again reassuring children that the arrival of new siblings doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Roman’s gentle soothing of typical childhood fears is warm and nurturing, creating a softer feel than in some of the other Captain No Beard stories. There’s limited adventure here, since it’s more specifically targeted toward children facing the uncertainty of new siblings. Roman does, however, add some spice in a brief science lesson on the metamorphosis of tadpoles to frogs, and, as usual, her charming illustrations light up the page with their humanity, cleverness, and bright colors. Dialogue is in Roman’s typically pirate-rich lingo, clever and quick, but overall, the story feels less like a rollicking pirate book and more like a tool for child therapy featuring an important life lesson.
Another strong installment in the Captain No Beard series despite quieter action and the obvious educational bend.