“Less about pirates and more about a grandfather and granddaughter relationship, this unpredictable book falls short of its potential.”
The story begins in the endpapers, showing a group of boys in a treehouse telling Cece she can’t be a pirate. Cece is mad—“Who were those boys to say she couldn’t be a pirate?” Remembering that her grandpa had been on a boat and has tattoos (like pirates), she goes to visit him for lessons on how to be a pirate. Her burly but kind-looking grandpa uses his illustrative tattoos to teach characteristics of a pirate: bravery, quick reactions, having fun, independence, and love. With each tattoo, Barrager pulls Cece and Grandpa into the featured, corresponding tattoo scene: like the pair flying on eagles after Grandpa shows the eagle tattoo that represents independence. After her lessons, Cece charges back to the chagrined boys, takes control of the crow’s nest, and all the mateys have a grand time playing pirate together. Timeless illustrations start in a classic tone and begin to magnify to a saturated, bright style with the first tattoo lesson. The story begins to feel a tad cheesy and unexpected with the loss of the softer color scheme, the lack of an actual story shared behind each tattoo, and the childish responses of “Wheee!” and “Yippee!” from Cece. While having a positive message of confidence, a unique take on the pirate topic, and a lovely relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter, the story falls flat after its initial charm.
"The ending is more than a bit optimistic, as CeCe gains admission simply by redeclaring intentions with a smidgen more chutzpah . .
Reality pales (literally) in the face of the imagination, with a clever tonal shift to a brighter, more saturated palette indicating CeCe’s determination.
While thar be precious little piracy visible in this, its feminist themes are strong."
Isaac Fitzgerald has been a firefighter, worked on a boat, and was once given a sword by a king, thereby accomplishing three out of five of his childhood goals. After making a bunch of cool things for the internet, he now writes books and lives in Brooklyn, New York.www.isaacfitzgerald.net@IsaacFitzgerald (Twitter)@isaac.fitzgerald (Instagram)
To my favorite pirate, CeCe, and to Jon Scieszka, without
whom this book would not exist.
Brigette Barrager is an award-winning artist, character designer, illustrator and writer of children’s books, best known for illustrating the best-selling Uni the Unicorn. Brigette earned a degree in Character Animation from the California Institute of the Arts, where she now teaches. She is always in search of stories that are both emotionally resonant and whimsical. Brigette lives and works in Los Angeles with her handsome husband Sean, a grumpy little dog, and two rascally gray kitties. www.brigetteb.com • @missbrigette (Instagram)
For Rowan and Alice, from your aunt Budgie!
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March 3, 2020
Typeset in Blueprint MT Sd
Art created with pencil, colored pencil, and ink washes composited in Photoshop