When a pack of kids decides to all dress up as pirates for Halloween, their imaginations almost get the best of them.
Kimmelman uses rhyming text in her latest offering with mixed results. Yes, pirate fans will hear plenty of pirate lingo, but too often the rhythm feels forced. The story is, however, full of action as a diverse group of boys and girls eagerly sets off to get as much sweet loot as they can. Notably, the pirate chief is an African-American girl. As the gang makes its way through the neighborhood, a black creature in the shadows comes on the scene. Charlotte Blue-Tongue, Rude Ranjeet, and Glass-Eyed Gabby board their ship, but the shadowy figure gets closer. Is it a monster or a sea serpent? Here, Monlongo shifts from a deep-hued spread of reds, black, and purples with a menacing, sharp-toothed monster ready to swallow the boat whole to the next full-bleed spread, which reveals a shaggy, friendly big dog with its pink tongue hanging out expectantly. It’s a cute reveal, but the payoff doesn’t seem commensurate with the buildup. The illustrations have a textured look but ultimately do little to add subtlety to the overwrought wording.
While many would welcome a pirate-themed Halloween tale, this one isn’t quite shipshape. (Picture book. 4-8)