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THE OLD PIRATE OF CENTRAL PARK by Robert Priest

THE OLD PIRATE OF CENTRAL PARK

By Robert Priest

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-90505-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

The leap-at-you color and elegantly stylized illustrations, resembling airbrushed linoleum-cuts, give this book an instant allure; the story—a noble tale of character and social leveling, mock drama and high mirth—more than meets the expectations aroused by that first impression. A retired pirate, out on a stroll in Central Park, is prompted by his memories to build a scale-model replica of his pirate ship and launch it in the park’s sailboat pond. All is shipshape until an old queen arrives and has her servant launch an outsized liner—the S.S. Uppity Duchess. The liner barges about, swamping the other boats in the pond, but at the pirate’s suggestion to slow her vessel, the queen opens fire on his ship. He responds with a broadside of his own and a great battle ensues; tiny cannonballs zing this way and that, people take cover, dogs and young children run riot, taxis on Fifth Avenue come to a halt. Then the queen calls a truce; she’s in need of a nap, and from that need—which the pirate shares—flows the notes of reconciliation. “Peace and tranquility once again reigned at the pond. Sails were set, dogs recaptured, and gentle laughter returned to the soft summer air of New York City.” Priest tells the story with dash and verve, whether in a turn of phrase or a line of art; it not only features a contemporary city with one of its great pleasures—the park—in full flower, but a realm in which the wish for a little rest outweighs the wages of war. (Picture book. 4-8)