A newly moved-in family with a different lifestyle gets a hostile reception from the oh-so-respectable neighbors.
Most of them, anyway. As in a dream come true, dazzled young Matilda welcomes Jim Lad, who “had no shoes, an eye patch, and a wooden-legged dog… / a pirate ship with treasure chests and barrels full of grog!” The arrival of Jim’s family in aptly named Dull-on-Sea is more of a nightmare for Matilda’s parents and the other adults though, who complain vociferously, spread rumors (“They never wash. / Their kids have lice. / They also just don’t smell that nice.”), and petition Town Hall for an eviction. “Before you know it, there’ll be more—we’ll all have pirates right next door!” Rendering every detail with concrete exactitude, Duddle (Pirate Cruncher, 2010) depicts Matilda and the pirates having wild pirate fun as comically dismayed townies huddle and recoil. No worries: the Jolley-Rogers are only ashore temporarily to make some repairs, and one morning they’re gone—leaving large X’s in everyone’s yard marking, as a double gatefold reveals, buried chests of treasure to show that “pirates aren’t so bad.”
Veiled in humor, but hard not to read as a parable that tweaks narrow minds and parochial attitudes. (Picture book. 6-8)