Roman’s (Captain No Beard: Strangers on the High Seas, 2013, etc.) pirate adventure, the fifth installment in her picture-book series, tackles the idea of what really matters.
Replete with brightly colored illustrations that bring to life dear friends and their vivid surroundings, the book begins when Captain No Beard and his feisty crew see a red sunrise. Polly the Parrot recites an ancient poem saying that red sky by morning means a storm is coming. When the crew demands to know where she came upon that information, she tells them about books and the joys to be found within their pages. The fascinated crew hammers her with questions, and their reactions are hilarious and endearing as they each discover books about their greatest loves or fears. The sparkling, fast-paced text gives life to the crew’s animated discussions. Fribbet the Frog, however, soon erupts into a hilarious moment of panic that the crew is talking about books instead of preparing for the storm: “How can you talk about books now! Red sky, oh boy. We’re in trouble. Storm’s coming. Shiver me timbers!” Just as the poem predicts, the crew does indeed encounter bad weather, with each team member doing his or her best to manage his or her duties, including cabin girl Cayla’s dubious contributions of pouring sour milk out of her bottle and unfraying a rope. The support and teamwork of the crew is a good reminder that working together in the face of adversity can make even a storm at sea fun. When the storm quiets, Captain No Beard whips out a treasure map for Snake Island, and the crew disembarks to find the treasure. Roman sets up an expectation for the treasure to be traditional pirate loot, so when they open the trunk and discover it’s full of books, it is a delightful, surprising twist. When the crew realizes they’ve stumbled up on a cache of books, the lack of gold is no disappointment among the ranks. Instead, they are all delighted and retire with happy joy to read about their favorite topics. As always, Roman skillfully intertwines a good lesson with open-sea adventure, danger and good ol’ pirate lingo. It’s even endearing how Polly the Parrot offers bottles of water for the crew while they dig—remember to stay hydrated, young readers!
Another fun, satisfying pirate adventure.