How to be a pirate by Isaac Fitzgerald

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Illus. by Brigette Barrager. Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781681197784. 40pp.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. When CeCe wants to join the neighbourhood gang and be a pirate like them, she is rebuffed and told she cannot be a pirate, so she swings her sword over her shoulder and marches off to see her grandfather who with all his tattoos, must know a little about being a pirate. And she is right. Grandfather trawls through his gallery of tattoos, each with a story and each reminding CeCe of the tenacity needed to be a pirate. The first tattoo is of a ship and he tells her that a pirate is brave, overcoming obstacles and forging ahead. Next is a panther and to be a pirate she must be quick to escape danger at any moment. A dancing senorita shows her that she must also have fun, and an eagle reflects a pirate's need to be independent. All of these attributes are necessary to being a pirate, but Grandfather warns, there is one that shines out over them all and it is this one that sees CeCe rushing back to the tree house and joining the boys.
The imaginative use of Grandfather's tattoos underscores the humour in this book. An older man's tattoos are usually hidden by clothing, so to see them standing out proudly will cause a lot of laughter amongst the readers, and to see how he uses each one to tell a story and enthuse CeCe with the skills needed to be a pirate, is simply charming.
Each tattoo creates a new adventure for CeCe to explore, and readers will quickly fill out the story behind each of the the wonderful illustrations. Vibrant and full of movement, readers will be in no doubt about the exploits of a pirate, poring over the drawings to see what pirates do and how brave, adventurous, quick and independent they are. Pirates, Humour, Grandparents, Bravery.
Fran Knight