Arrrgh! A job opening on a jolly pirate ship turns out to be unexpectedly hard to fill.
First Mate Hugh—a ragged, sandy-haired Everylad in Parsons’ cartoon scenes—announces in rhyme to the crew that the docked pirate ship’s “mopped and swabbed and scrubbed” and ready to set sail. But who’ll be captain? Alas, one flamboyantly dressed passer-by’s hook is just a clothes hanger, another with what looks like a torn treasure map is only holding a shopping list, the parrot hoisted by a third dandy is but an umbrella handle, and a fourth’s “glistening silver blade, / two gold teeth and underneath, / a beard tied in a braid!” turns out to be a party costume. But when this last gent sapiently suggests “You’ll need one who / will lead your crew / and not just look the part” and asks who it was who actually organized the ship’s latest spiffing-up, all eyes turn to the erstwhile First Mate…instantly promoted to “Pirate Captain Hugh!” The illustrations appear pretty much phoned-in, as background details are at times left uncolored, and the effort to add diversity by tucking in a pair of darker-skinned figures—one a girl to boot—to the knavish cast comes off as perfunctory at best. Some verses of an original chantey fore and aft of the tale can be heard on the British edition’s online book trailer.
A point worth pondering, however facile its making. (Picture book. 6-8)