Pirate stew by Neil Gaiman

cover image

Illus. by Chris Riddell. Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781526614728.
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. The glorious front cover has instant appeal for every reader, as their eyes glance over the array of characters on the dust jacket. Two startled children at the bottom of the cover, complete with a stuffed toy, are on either side of a jolly pirate holding aloft a giant pot. Filling the cover pages are wonderfully piratical images, which will entrance all readers. Opening the book, children will see a situation not unfamiliar, that of Mum and Dad going out and leaving them with a baby sitter. But what a baby sitter! Long John McRon arrives complete with a rag bag of cohorts, splendidly attired, all ready to help, but when they open the fridge to cook tea for the children, find there is nothing there. So Long John calls out that he will make Pirate Stew, to the delight of all his friends. Into the pot goes everything piratical and a bit more besides until they all sit down to eat, the children careful not to even taste theirs, then the ship develops wings and off they fly for an adventure. Landing at Sally's Donut Shop sees lots of cakes consumed and when they return home, Mum and Dad return as well. Then a twist in the tale makes everyone laugh at the end of a very funny pirate poem.
Wonderful rhymes, fun to read out loud (practise first) complete with glorious illustrations will have children reading bits again ad again, poring over the images, looking out for all things to do with pirates, and then seeking out other books, and waiting for Talk Like Pirate Day (19 September) to come around.
This is a wonderful collaboration by award winning author and illustrator, ensuring kids will have a great deal of fun as they turn each page.
Themes: Pirates, Family, Cooking, Humour, Verse, Imagination.
Fran Knight