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The Barefoot Book of Pirates [With CD]
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Gr 4-6-Pirate tales with an international flavor are the focus of this collection. While yarns from Europe predominate, folklore from Japan and Morocco lends a broader scope. An entry from Ireland about the notorious Grace O'Malley balances somewhat the otherwise male representation. Source notes indicate that Walker has extensively researched the genre in order to make his uncommon selections. Unfortunately, the impact is diminished by bland retellings, and readers may find the tone of the tales too flat to suit the spirited topic of swashbuckling adventure. In addition, the full-color watercolor illustrations, while attractive, lack the verve and movement associated with stories of the high seas and rough characters. Fans of buccaneers, corsairs, and the like will probably be more gratified by high-quality nonfiction titles such as Philip Steele's Pirates (Kingfisher, 1997). Comprehensive folklore collections may benefit from this anthology of unusual legends.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA

Plumbing the storytelling traditions of diverse cultures, from Japan to Morocco to Persia, both Walker and Matthews come up with treasure for this smashing pair of themed anthologies. While a few tales are standards (e.g., "The Princess and the Pea," "Sleeping Beauty"), most are not. It will be news to most readers, for example, that Robin Hood once took a seaside holiday ("Robin Hood and the Pirates"), and that the list of famous swashbucklers includes an Irish woman ("Pirate Grace"). Many of the princesses, too, deviate from familiar patterns. The Chinese "Beggar Princess" survives an attempted drowning by her new husband, only to rise above him; a picky Iroquois princess atones for a foolish decision through her brave deeds ("The Horned Snake's Wife"). The prose in both volumes is top-notch‘richly embellished and seamless. Whelan's effervescent artwork recalls Jane Ray's in composition, color and use of detail and borders. She tailors her delicate watercolors to each story's country of origin. "The Abbey Bells," for instance, a Scottish pirate tale, features plaid ship's sails. Each story is presented against a different background page color, and tiny thumbnail illustrations hover about the page numbers (a pair of violins for "Music Charms the Pirates"; ankle bracelets and crown for the African "Princess Who Lost Her Hair"). Superbly executed, these buoyant volumes are must-haves for storytellers and folk- and fairy-tale fans. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

"Walker has extensively researched the genre in order to make this uncommon selection." -- School Library Journal "School Library Journal"

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