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by Eric A. Kimmel & illustrated by Michael Dooling

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-590-68199-0
Publisher: Scholastic

What do you get when you mix Robin Hood with Peter Pan, and throw in a dash of The Lord of the Flies? You get a new, original, tall tale from folkmeister Kimmel (Gershon’s Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year, 2000, etc.). Found as an infant cradled in the arms of a giant octopus, Robin is raised to be a pirate by the notorious James Hook. The passage of years proves that Robin is just too nice to be a pirate, and he is cast away on a desert island, where he learns the language of the animals and takes charge of a group of similarly marooned children. In their trusty craft, the Sandpiper, and aided by the birds and animals, they crusade to thwart the region’s pirates. While some of the individual conceits work nicely—the children “put itching powder in Blackbeard’s beard, and they erased the ‘X’ on Captain Flint’s treasure map so that he would never find the buried treasure”—the text never overcomes one of the basic problems inherent in so many pirate stories: the pirates are simply more interesting than Robin, who comes across as something of a namby-pamby. Dooling’s (The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin, p. 119, etc.) capable oils fall victim to this syndrome as well, reveling in depictions of pirates in all their roguery but giving short shrift to the goody-goody Robin. (Young mariners will also wonder how the Sandpiper, which seems to be constructed of seaweed and sticks, manages to stay afloat.) There’s lots of mischief and fun here, but its hero simply can’t measure up to its villains. (Picture book. 5-8)