A scrappy, scurvy squirrel finds his heart’s desire.
Sammy lives in the forest but dreams of being a pirate on the high seas. When he stumbles upon a treasure map, it appears his prayers have been answered. Alas, his path is fraught with dangers, from toothy crocodiles to prickly porcupines to haunted swamps. Besting each challenge, Sammy reaches his destination, but what’s this? No treasure? Distraught, Sammy kicks the nearest tree—and what rains down upon him will surprise few. Pigott’s mixed-media art portrays Sammy as a chipper red squirrel, complete with the obligatory, stereotypical eye patch, pirate hat, and jaunty gold earring. Disability cliché aside, the pictures have a lot of appeal, deeply saturated colors popping off the page. Occasionally the book is positively atmospheric, as when Sammy finds himself adrift in a misty marsh. Unfortunately, the text is characterized by clunky verse and a hectoring narrative voice: “Run away, Sammy, from this spooky trap! / We’re nearly at X marks the spot on the map!” The book ends with a sudden flashback to the original squirrel pirates that buried their acorn treasure, planting the mighty oaks that reward Sammy. (Squirrel pirates have it hard, considering that their buried treasure tends to sprout.)
Arrr…frolicsome imagery cannot save this landlubber rodent from sinking beneath his book’s awkward text. (Picture book. 3-6)