Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Gingerbread Pirates

By Kristin Kladstrup and illustrated by Matt Tavares

Candlewick Press, 2009

$16.99, ages 4-8

A gingerbread pirate slips away from the sleeping boy who baked him to find his missing crew and fend off a giant red cannibal in this delightful holiday story by Kladstrup and Tavares.

It's Christmas Eve and the boy and his mother have just mixed up a batch of gingerbread pirates to leave out for Santa, but the boy can't part with his favorite, Captain Cookie, so he takes him up to bed. As the boy looks over at the cookie on his side table, he wishes it had a pirate ship and drifts off to sleep imagining they are both listening for Santa's reindeer.

Captain Cookie, however, isn't sleepy and climbs down from the table and a spiraling mountain of stairs in search of his pirate crew. At the bottom. he retrieves his half-eaten cutlass from a nibbling mouse who wishes him Merry Christmas, but Captain Cookie has never heard of Christmas and is astonished when he sees a huge tree with stars in the next room.

By the mantle, he spots two of his crew, Wavy and Dots, each named for their frosting patterns, climbing down to him, but as they reach the hearth, a black cloud of soot envelops the three, signaling the arrival of a pirate-eating monster. With no time to waste, Captain Cookie and his two mates race to the kitchen to free the rest of the crew from Mom's cookie jar before the big red man can devour them.

But without a ship's rope and pulley, the captain and his mates can't hoist off the lid of the glass prison. How will they ever fend off a creature so hungry for cookies?

Kladstrup, author of the novel The Book of Story Beginnings, gives new life to the story of the gingerbread boy in this enchanting book. No sooner had I read it to my 5-year-old, I was pledged to make a ship's worth of gingerbread pirates. (I suggested we make them for Christmas, but he's thinking right now. "Please, please, Mom?" ...Oh must I, me hearty?)

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