Pirates and Bookaneers

By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL Associated Press Writer Published:

Childrens picture books cover so many topics that when you have two new ones with the same theme its quite a coincidence. Three its a fluke. By the time you have four with the same theme, its a downright trend.

Pirates, retold fairy tales and party books seem to be on the cusp of a zeitgeist.

Pirate books:

Blackbeards Last Fight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17, ages 8 and up) by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher.

The governor of Virginia charges Lieutenant Maynard and his young cabin boy Jeremy Hobbs to lead the charge against Blackbeard, the infamous pirate who blockaded a Southern port. But as Jeremy learns more about Blackbeard and how he freed African slaves and helped others he isnt quite sure who the villain is.

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs (Margaret K. McElderry, $15.95, ages 3-6) by Giles Andreae and illustrated by Russell Ayto.

Flinn is a pirate aficionado and a fan of dinosaurs, too. When he wanders into the art supply closet at school, Flinn stumbles upon Captain Stubble, who lost his ship. Who stole it? A big, bad dinosaur. Flinn goes on his ultimate adventure as he makes peace between the two pirates.

Pirate Girl (The Chicken House/Scholastic, $15.95, ages 3-5) by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Kerstin Meyer.

Captain Firebeard thinks hes the toughest pirate on the high seas. He thinks that little Molly will be no match for him. Hes wrong. And thats even before he meets Mollys mom, Barbarous Bertha.

Pirate Pup (Chronicle, $15.95, ages 4-8) by Caroline Stutson and illustrated by Robert Rayevsky.

Pirate Pup and him mates set off on their ship, Rover, searching for buried treasure. What they dont know is that a boatload of cats are hot on their tail. The misadventure, though, is that the dogs are looking for bones, and the cats are after gold.

Sloop John B.: A Pirates Tale (Milk & Cookies, $17.95, ages 4-8) by Alan Jardine and illustrated by Jimmy Pickering.

An original member of the Beach Boys, author Jardine expands a folk song into a book and adds a CD. A pleasure cruise by a boy and his grandpa is disrupted by pirates. But the boy doesnt allow the trip to be ruined.

Fairy tales:

The Wolfs Story: What Really Happened to Little Red Riding Hood (Candlewick, $15.99, ages 4-8) by Toby Forward and illustrated by Izhar Cohen.

There are always two sides to a story, right? The wolf claims Grandma was trying to get her best dress out of the closet when she fell over, bumped her head and was knocked out cold. He didnt want to disappoint poor Little Red, so he put on the dress, jumped into the bed and pretended he was Grandma. Hes still not sure how he became the bad guy after all hes the one who had to run all the way into town with a stubby tail, thanks to the woodsmans ax, and wearing a dress!

Three Hungry Pigs and the Wolf Who Came to Dinner (Random House, $16.95, ages 4-8) by Charles Santore.

Mama Pig turns a wolf on to truffles and into a vegetarian to save herself and her two piglets. The wolf then turns on his own kind to protect the nose that sniffs out the rare mushrooms. They all live happily ever after. Together.

Sleeping Bobby (Atheneum, $16.95, all ages) by Will and Mary Pope Osborne, and illustrated by Giselle Potter.

Who said Sleeping Beauty couldnt be a boy? He is in this book, and his name is Bobby.

Its a kind, clever, modest and very lovely princess who comes to save him after he pricks his finger on a spinning wheel and falls into a deep slumber. When she finally reaches him, the princess cant help herself from kissing him. After all, hes so handsome.

The Neat Line Scribbling Through Mother Goose (HarperCollins, $15.99, ages 4-7) by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Diana Cain Bluthenthal.

A chameleon of sorts saves the day in several familiar tales. It becomes a horn for Little Boy Blue to blow, a rainstorm to water Mary, Mary Quite Contrarys flowers, and a big bird who scares away the spider taunting Little Miss Muffet.

Noras Ark (HarperCollins, $15.99, ages 4-9) by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully.

A little girl named Wren and hearty Grandma and Grandpa provide shelter to chicks, a horse, a few pigs, and some ducks not to mention their human neighbors during a giant flood in Vermont in 1927.

An Undone Fairy Tale (Simon & Schuster, $15.95, ages 6-10) by Ian Lender and illustrator Whitney Martin.

A run-of-the-mill princess-in-distress fairy tale becomes anything but ordinary when the artist in charge of the pictures takes some shortcuts. The king ends up wearing a doughnut on his head instead of a crown, the hero wears a tutu and hes challenged by an army of pickles. When the couple rides off into the sunset, they do it on a snail.

Snow White (Dutton, $16.99, ages 3 and up) by Melinda Copper.

Snow White is a fluffy bunny, and the dwarves are little mice. The evil queen? An icy white cat.

Parties:

If You Give a Pig a Party (HarperCollins, $15.99, ages 3-7) by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

A pig can be a pig. If you give her a party, shes also going to want decorations, a trip to the street fair, ice cream, clean clothes, pillows for a slumber party, pillows for a pillow fight and all the other things that can lead to a really good time!

Oscars Half Birthday (Candlewick, $16.99, ages 2-6 by Bob Graham.

Big sister Millie isnt jealous that her baby brother is getting a half-birthday celebration. She likes seeing admirers line up, eating the cake and even giving Oscar a turn with one of her favorite toys. Millie also likes hearing that the next party will be hers for her fourth birthday.

Stop This Birthday! (Chronicle, $14.95, ages 3-7) by Rowan Cutler and illustrated by Elizabeth McClellan.

Zephyr has such a wonderful time on her birthday, when it comes to make her wish, she asks for another one. And another one. It is possible, however, to have too much of a good thing. And on birthday No. 5, Zephyr wishes itll go away at least for another 365 days.

Olives Pirate Party (Little, Brown, $15.99, ages 4-8) by Roberta Baker and illustrated by Debbie Tilley.

Olive wanted a pirate party, until she finds out the party will be at Aunt Tiffanys house. Aunt Tiffany likes frilly things, not fearsome things, Olive worries. But blue-haired Aunt Tiffany proves shes really Bluebeard at heart, and she turns her backyard into a treasure trove.

A Cloudy Day in Sunny Patch (Callaway, $6.99, ages 4-8) by David Kirk.

A rain cloud casts a pall over Shimmers hatchday (birthday for bugs) party, but she decides not to let a few setbacks ruin her special time.

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