This Swiss import may lack the customary “Arrs” and “Mateys” of the pirate genre, but its heart is in the right place.
When the pirates of the good ship Mary Anne discover that they’ve been invited to a little girl’s birthday party, they’re thrilled. But the beckoning cake and fizzy drinks are waylaid when Pete, the pirate parrot, informs them that they are unfit for civilization. At his insistence, they bathe, buy fine clothes, purchase an appropriate present and wrap it. Weinert’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations make the most of the situation, reveling in the pirates’ pre-reformation grunge and the absurdity of their cleanup. Canny readers may see where this is going, particularly after the birthday girl proves skeptical of squeaky-clean pirates. Sadly, the pirates’ delight is punctured almost entirely by birthday-girl Polly’s remarkable rudeness. Not only does she tell them that they look stupid, but the ungrateful little wench tosses their carefully planned present out of her home. What should be a refreshing example of girls who like pirates instead leaves a bad taste in readers’ mouths.
Though a visual treat, it’s only for those who can’t get enough yo-ho-hos and bottles of rum. (Picture book. 4-8)