A tale of vocabulary-related piratical chicanery doubles as a touching ode to the deceased author Margaret Mahy.
Hungry pirates are nothing to mess with under ordinary circumstances, and these buccaneers are absolutely not ordinary. Capt. Rottingbones and his crew crave but one substance for their meals: words! With their Bumblebirds trained to steal from writers and books, the crew feasts on words both long (“antidisestablishmentarianism”) and short (“pop”). Their doom comes when the captain sets his sights on a rainbow-wigged New Zealand “Word Wizard” (a nod to Mahy, to whom this book is dedicated). Unafraid, she does battle with the pirates with her pen, ultimately chastening them and setting them on a new path in life. There is always room for one more tale about the power of the written word, and adding pirates to the mix lends a bit of spice and flavor to this one. Accompanying the rollicking storyline, Kellogg’s bright paintings, done in his signature style, fill his pages with busyness. The Bumblebirds look like white sea gulls, and the words they hunt droop from their beaks like dead fish. The pirates and other characters represent a variety of skin tones and genders while the Word Wizard and captain present white. One pirate has both an eye patch and a peg leg, but otherwise the captain’s crew is largely free of stereotype.
A right jolly paean to the deliciousness of words. (Picture book. 4-7)