When it comes to bravery, “nearly fearless” doesn’t cut the mustard.
What’s better than pirates on the high seas? Monkey pirates on the high seas! A scurvy crew of four (the chain of command runs short in monkey circles) sets off to hunt down that most awesome prey, the octo-shark. Led by the “almost-brave” leader Capt. Banana Beard, a baboon prone to exaggeration and poor personal hygiene, the shipmates face off against toothy predators and polite octopuses before stumbling upon a most terrifying hybrid. Overlooking the not insignificant problem that the captain isn’t a monkey at all but an ape (belying the series title), this early chapter book sports a whimsical, cavalier attitude. At its best, it gives readers pirates that are engaged in farcical mishaps and wild misunderstandings—in other words, fun. It’s less successful when it tries for a bit of pathos (the lowly crewman is assured at the end that someday he’ll be a great pirate); this is not a book to consult for emotional resonance. Madcap illustrations perfectly capture the hijinks that insist upon ensuing.
Though few will go truly bananas for these piratical primates, there’s enough lighthearted buccaneering on display that at least some readers will look for the other books in this series. (glossary) (Animal fantasy. 7-9)