In her latest outing, clever young Matilda leaves Dull-on-Sea for a pirates-only theme park and joins the hunt for Mad Jack McMuddle’s long-buried treasure (The Pirates Next Door, 2012, etc.).
In illustrations that are positively awash with classic piratical gear and nautical detail, Matilda joins her friend Jim Lad and his buccaneer family, the Jolley-Rogers, aboard the Blackhole for a voyage to aptly named Scurvy Sands. Her welcome there is decidedly mixed (“My monkey can’t find any lice, / but says her hair smells very nice!”), though, until she passes the “pirate test” by gathering clues left by Mad Jack to dig up, as revealed in a climactic double gatefold, a veritable mountain of glittering loot. If the plotline and sometimes-ungainly rhymes aren’t going to shiver any timbers, all the skulls, crossbones, fancy hats and coats, eye patches, carved peg legs, sashes, unkempt hair and beards, tattoos, and snaggly teeth on display will rouse mighty cheers from pirate fans of any stripe. Duddle even adds an aerial map of the ramshackle rides and restaurants. Home Matilda sails at the end…but even though she “really couldn’t wait to be / landlubbing back in Dull-On-Sea,” further rousing sea adventures doubtless await. Matilda and the Jolley-Rogers present white; one young guest and flamboyant official greeter Cap’n Ollie Day are the only people of color in sight on the beaches and boardwalks.
Yo ho ho and a bottle of sun screen. (Picture book. 6-8)