Sunday, September 16, 2012


By Jonny Duddle

(Templar Books, 2009)
There’s an edginess in the air.  I always sense it before the big holidays.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas.  International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  Yes, mateys, the day is creeping up on us—September 19. Tick, tick,... And, if you’re like me, all you’ve got in your talking treasure chest is, “ARRRR!”  Makes a strong initial impact, but you’ve got to have something as a follow-up.  How about a book?

Last year, in a last-minute ITLAPD rush, I dug through the children’s library shelves and came up disappointed...nothing but fool’s gold.  Perhaps someone had already pillaged the collection because I found a couple of cutesy titles that failed to capture the pirate spirit and a few older text-heavy books that lacked the visual appeal for today’s youth.  This year, I began my search in August and sailed away with The Pirate Cruncher.  A worthy find, indeed!

The story starts with a bone thin old fiddler who wanders into Port Royal and captures the attention of the pirates at the Thirsty Parrot.  I’m guessing it’s more the lyrics, than the tune:

I was sailing one day and what did I see?
An island of gold in the scurvy sea!
With a fiddle-de-dee,
There’ll be treasure for me.
Fiddle-de-dee, across the sea.

Immediately the motley crew dream of bags of, rubies, gold.  (Only Captain Purplebeard’s faithful macaw strays from the revelry:  “I’d rather have a bag of peanuts.”)  The pirates hastily down their last pints of grog and board their ship, the ominously named Black Hole.  (Arrr!  Methinks this may be a springboard to foreshadowing.)

The fiddler adds another verse to his chantey.  Seems the island vanishes and no pirate has ever returned. Pirates, of course, are a hardy lot.  But when the fiddler sings on about a pirate-crunching monster, the crew members begin to quiver (“I forgot:  it’s the Parrot’s Point picnic today.”).  Nonetheless, no one can keep Purplebeard from his golden opportunity. 

I shan’t reveal more.  But do take a peek at the ending before sharing with children.

Duddle’s tale captures the true spirit of pirate adventures and his colorful digital illustrations are pure visual candy.  Hunt down this treasure to make your Talk Like a Pirate Day a rich, successful celebration.

Now I’ve got to get started on taste sampling all that Halloween candy I’ve stashed before sending off my letter to Santa. 

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