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*Puppy Pirates #1: Stowaway! (A Stepping Stone Book)* by Erin Soderberg
Also by Erin Soderberg:

Puppy Pirates #2: X Marks the Spot (A Stepping Stone Book)
Puppy Pirates #1: Stowaway! (A Stepping Stone Book)
by Erin Soderberg
Ages 6-9 96 pages Random House July 2015 Paperback    

Wally the golden retriever puppy is a farm dog looking for home and an adventure. The pirate puppies call him a landlubber and tell him he’s too soft and little to handle life on the ocean with them. Old Salt, the three-legged pirate, says, “Maybe when you’re a little bigger, kid. No kittens allowed on the crew of the Salty Bone.”

Wally intends to prove he can be a pirate, though, so he becomes a stowaway by hiding in a crate of meat that is being brought onto the ship. He passes his first test by overcoming his fear of darkness and seasickness. While hiding in the dark, he meets Henry, a human stowaway. He, too, wants to be a pirate. They become fast friends over their shared dream.

When they are discovered, they are allowed to stay if they earn their keep. While Wally is swabbing the deck, making dinner, and manning the crow’s nest, things go wrong; he manages to befriend the others by solving their problems. When the pug sister pirates make a mess while he and Henry are washing the deck, Captain Red Beard’s anger is diverted with a game Wally and Henry invent (on the spot) called Slip and Slide Fetch. When the two friends are in the kitchen with Steak-eye, the Chihuahua cook, they add an extra ingredient (cat food) to the stew which the crew raves about.

When Wally sees the Nine Lives ship coming toward their ship, he prevents a war between the cat and dog pirates by distracting the cats with a riddle and then driving them away by using the pugs’ cannon and some water. Wally is rewarded for his efforts with a new position--cabin boy--and Henry can stay as his best mate.

The book ends with an excerpt from the next book in the series, X Marks the Spot. This early chapter book has large black-and-white illustrations on every second or third page. The chapter headings begin with a dog skull-and-crossbones symbol. The story is about pirates, but it is not scary.

While reading the book, children will learn pirate talk. Words such as ahoy and swashbuckling are explained in the context of the dialogue. The characters have memorable traits, which add humor to the story and make them more human-like and relatable. Captain Red Beard mixes up his words. Steak-Eye is easily angered, and Puggly likes to accessorize her pirate outfit with ribbons, pearls and pink handkerchiefs.

I recommend this book to boys and girls who, like Wally and Henry, are looking to get lost in an adventure on the high seas.

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