From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2–Molly is sailing off to visit her grandmother when she is captured by ferocious Captain Firebeard and his cutthroat crew. Their intention is to hold her for ransom, but the stalwart girl refuses to divulge her parents' names and address despite endless chores and threats of being fed to the sharks. Instead, she waits until the pirates fall asleep and tosses messages tucked into bottles out to sea. Caught in the act, she is about to be thrown overboard when rescue arrives in the person of her mother, the pirate Barbarous Bertha. Firebeard and his crew must now take over Molly's chores, and she sails happily off to Grandma's house. While the plot is mildly amusing, it is also thin and predictable. If the intention was to make a feminist statement, the story falls short of the mark, unless the message is that girls, too, can be nasty bullies. Meyer's cartoon sketches resemble Quentin Blake's work, but some of the details are lost in the odd choice of a murky gray for skin tones. Funke's The Princess Knight (Scholastic, 2004) is a better choice for feminist fare, and David McPhail's Edward and the Pirates (Little, Brown, 1997) is a superior pirate story.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
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K-Gr. 2. With this tale of a bonny lass kidnapped by pirates who live to regret their choice of victim, Funke and Meyer deliver a booster shot of the girl power they celebrated in The Princess Knight (2004). Afloat in a dinghy with a flowered sail and clad in sensible shorts and a T-shirt, redheaded Molly is snatched and held for ransom by Captain Firebeard, an infamous buccaneer who causes "the knees of honest seafaring folk [to] shake like jelly." But Molly remains unfazed, for she knows something Firebeard does not: her mom is Barbarous Bertha, queen of a crew of fierce maidens and matrons. The tale comes to an oddly abrupt conclusion, and the premise of a little girl alone on a ship of rum-guzzling male delinquents may cause some children and parents to wince. But Meyer's whimsical, color-soaked line-and-watercolor illustrations ensure that the captors appear more as burly dimwits than genuine threats, and the premise of a defiant kid duping a nasty adult through personal cleverness and parental heroism has universal appeal. Jennifer Mattson
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