Friday, May 2, 2008
The Castaway Pirates
Marshall, Ray. 2008. The Castaway Pirates. Illustrated by Wilson Swain.
I'm going to do something slightly unusual. I'm going to give separate ratings to the components of this one book. It is of varying quality, in my opinion, but I'm not a kid so take my opinion with a grain of salt. The illustrations I'd rate somewhere between a three or three and 1/2. They're enjoyable. Somewhere in the average to slightly better than average range. The pop-ups--for this is indeed a pop-up book--I'd rate a four easily. They were very elaborate. Each spread growing more and more so. So while it doesn't start out as being very complex, very interesting, by the end you're like whoa a lot of work went into this. But the text, the poor text, is a text-book example of rhymes that aren't rhythmic. The text rhymes. But it is not rhythmic. (To borrow from Lucy, the text rolls right off your tongue and onto the floor.) It just falls flat or falls short of what I'd expect of a book of this quality. The visual effects--the pop ups, the illustrations--are good, but the text is just okay. So I'd have to rate the text in the two to two and half range. The story itself is good. Pirates are forced into their lifeboat when their boat sinks (or explodes or whatever) but then their lifeboat springs a leak. And there is a shark nearby waiting to get them...or so they think. The book suffers from trying to hard to be the Green Grass Grew All Aroundish. In other words, it's one of those that repeats itself--like The House That Jack Built, like Green Eggs and Ham, etc. But since the text lacks all rhythm, it just doesn't work. Or it works, but just barely. This is how their publisher describes the book, "The Castaway Pirates -- In this pop-up pirate adventure, five pirates try to avoid being eaten by a shark when their ship springs a leak. They try to plug the hole with everything from the captain's coat to his rope, but in the end it's their smelly feet that turn the shark away. Each spread features a colorful, intricate pop-up designed by a master paper engineer, and the pop-ups grow more elaborate with each turn of the page."