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Bad Pirate

by Kari-Lynn Winters; Dean Griffiths (illus.)

Captain Barnacle Garrick is a good pirate: he’s saucy, bold, and selfish. So is his scurvy-ridden crew. His daughter, Augusta, however, is good natured and helpful, and thus a terrible pirate. When she offers to fix a rip in their ship’s sail, she is chastised for being too nice. Her father roars, “If I find a kindhearted matey on board, yez be the one feedin’ the fishes!” In an effort to please her father and show she can be bad, Augusta throws fellow pirate Scully’s peg leg overboard, though she feels sick with guilt afterward.

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 4.49.53 PMWhen a storm threatens the ship, Augusta defies orders and scurries up the rigging to repair the sail, averting disaster and proving she can be saucy and bold without being selfish. Her altruistic actions cause her father to revise his rules and opinion of what makes a good bad pirate.

This is a delightful book with a take-charge female protagonist who rejects her father’s expectations of stereotypical behaviour and remains true to her own values.­ Kari-Lynn Winters’ text is as spirited as Augusta herself, sprinkled liberally with classic pirate slang and nautical terms (all helpfully explained on the endpapers). Veteran artist Dean Griffiths’ clever illustrations are filled with movement, drama, and visual jokes, often depicting the action from different perspectives (atop the main mast, water level outside the ship). The characters are dogs of different breeds dressed as pirates – a visual pun on the term “sea dogs” – and have wonderfully expressive, human-like faces. Captain Garrick wears a hook in place of one paw – a sly reference to the infamous Captain Hook. Although the potential damage of the storm is a little too easily averted, this rollicking story will charm pirate fans young and old.