When two dull-as-dishwater sisters suddenly find themselves working for female pirates, their days of boredom come sadly to an end.
Jaundice and Kale Bland haven’t seen their parents in years, but that’s OK. They’ve kept to themselves and have a lucrative business darning socks. Life is boring, and that’s fine with them. That is, until a pirate named Deadeye Delilah kidnaps the two and forces them into working for her all-women crew on the high seas. Delilah’s in search of a particular cache of treasure, and she’s convinced the girls hold the secret to its recovery. Together the two must use their limited skills to escape certain death and find out what happened to their parents so long ago. There’s a smidgen of Snicket in the works here, but only a pinch. Generally LaReau serves her humor dry, adding some serious swashbuckling for good measure. Sailing right over children’s heads will be jokes like the search for Capt. Ann Tennille, the all-male rival pirate ship the Testostero, or the tattooed pirate Princess Kwee-Kweg. Meanwhile Hill’s pen-and-ink cartoons give the book precisely the right strange and silly tone to help sustain what easily could have become a one-joke wonder. She gives Jaundice and Kale slightly darker skin than Deadeye Delilah, whose crew is a multiethnic one.
“Shanghai” and “charming” don’t usually go together, but here they do. (Adventure. 7-9)