It’s living pirates vs. the other sort when ghost buccaneers repeatedly ransack the town of Dull-on-Sea.
First met as picture-book Pirates Next Door (2012), the nautical Jolley-Rogers family sails back into view in a multichapter yarn—responding to young pirate-loving ex-neighbor Matilda’s plea for help. It seems that every full moon brings dead Cap’n Twirlybeard and his knavish crew ashore in search of both plunder and a certain long lost key. According to Grandpa Rogers, only unlocking the sea chest that contains their scurvy souls can scupper the attacks. Can Matilda and her piratical friend Jim Lad find the missing key, keep it out of Twirlybeard’s clutches, and sneak aboard the spectral pirate ship Black Rat to open the chest at last? Duddle punctuates his larger-than-average prose with theatrical verse (“Some say we’re cursed, some say we’re dead! / We’re in search of a key as you sleep in bed!”) and tucks in plenty of elaborately detailed monochrome illustrations featuring a likewise monochrome cast of comically clueless white landlubbers and leering corsairs in classic pirate garb. A rousingly melodramatic face-off ends as it should, whereupon the Jolley-Rogers sail off once again…and into the clutches of a trio of witchy “sea hags” in the co-published next episode, The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom. Now, it’s Matilda’s turn to come to the rescue.
A pleaser for young swashbucklers. (glossary) (Fantasy. 8-10)