A pirate bus driver tells his new kindergarten charges to buck up and not be afraid, but then something happens that shows him to be a fraidy fraud.
On their first day of kindergarrrten, a rather unconventional bus driver greets six diverse kids whose fear (both of the new experience of going to school and of their driver) is more than evident. But the blatantly stereotypical (hook hand, peg leg, earring, hat, beard and mustache) pirate will have no blubbering on his bus: “Pirates don’t get scared!… / ’Cause we’re rrrough! And we’re tough! / And we ain’t got time for that fluffy stuff!” But when bumpy roads send his parrot flying out the window, the pirate’s “hornswogglin’ ” is revealed, and in a reversal, the children must convince the pirate that he can be brave and drive the bus even without Polly. An author’s note tells adults how to help anxious children faced with new experiences. Barry’s illustrations use fairly dark, somber hues to set the mood, and his fine-lined, scribbly style suits the pirate theme. The details will keep readers glued to the pages: Instead of stairs, the bus has a plank to walk, the windows are round like portholes, the steering wheel is that from a ship, and a jolly roger (the silhouette of a teddy bear head) flies from the roof.
X marks the school: “The treasure of all treasures!” (Picture book. 3-7)