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*A Pirate's Night Before Christmas* by Philip Yates, illustrated by Sebastia Serra
A Pirate's Night Before Christmas
by Philip Yates, illustrated by Sebastia Serra
Ages 3-6 32 pages Sterling October 2014 Hardcover    

On a pirate’s night before Christmas, Sir Peggedy visits the ship, Black Sark. He carries coins and hardtack in his sack, and he’s pulled through the ocean by seahorses named Salty, Scurvy, Sinbad, Mollie, Cutthroat, Cross-Eyes, Roger and Jolly.

The good buccaneers on the ship don’t stay asleep on Christmas Eve. They dance and eat, and admire their gifts (the Captain gets a new plank). One young pirate on the ship is sad though, “Blimey, where is me prize?” But he gets an unexpected surprise when a treasure map falls from the seashell sleigh as it returns to the ocean floor. And just as Santa exclaims his good wishes at the end of the original ‘Twas the Night Before Christmasi>, this peg-legged Santa says his goodbye with a “Merry Christmas, me bucks, an’ a Happy New Yaargghhhhh!”

Back material includes a two-page glossary of pirate vocabulary used throughout the story (i.e. avast, bucko, cauldron, crow’s nest, shank, thar). The double-page spreads are set aboard the ship in the evening. The pirates (both male and female, and of various ages) have misshaped noses, missing teeth, and long hairstyles. Sir Peg has a real parrot that sits on his black hat and long facial scars. He does not wear a red suit,s but he does have a white beard.

There is a lot of detail on the page that added to the theme of the story such as a dog with a patch over his eye, stockings hung on the mast of the ship, and a Christmas tree decorated with skeleton keys, starfish, fish bones and broken glass. The pirates and sea creatures look rough, but they have big smiles on their faces (even the lobsters), and one pirate sucks his thumb.

The story contains quite a few slang words and some poor grammar, but it fits with the pirate narration. Pair this picture book with A Pirate’s Twelve Days of Christmas, also by Yates and Serra.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2014 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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