A once fearless pirate captain gets his mojo back—just in time for bed.
For no good reason, Capt. Scaredy Cat, formerly unafraid of sharks, storms, or even girls’ kisses, is now jumping at his own shadow. What’s his worried crew, “rude, tough, and wild,” to do? (That description’s not echoed in Wimmer’s jolly depictions of children in diverse theatrical costumes. And though the costumes are diverse, the crew is not, mostly being as white as the captain with the exception of one dark-skinned sailor and a dog.) Unfortunately, “thinking was not their thing,” as the Spanish original’s translators put it, so they leave him aboard a haunted ship to be menaced by a succession of deliciously hulking monsters, whose sudden appearances in the shadowy, atmospheric illustrations will be greeted by young audiences with screams of delight. Though initially the captain “almost doodied in his pants,” firm repetitions of the mantra “they don’t exist, they don’t exist, they don’t exist” cause the ghost, the vampire, and the “ugly, ugly, ugly…truly ugly” werewolf to vanish—after which he snuggles down, “never ever afraid again.”
The suggested coping strategy won’t work for all children, but if read with proper gusto, the book will be a sure storytime hit. (Picture book. 5-7)