From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3AAn alphabet sea chantey, "created sometime in the 1800s by an unknown sailor," serves as the springboard for this handsome combination alphabet book, nautical history lesson, and adventure. Composed of rhyming couplets, the verse is jaunty, if occasionally forced. A clear definition at the bottom of each page is helpful in describing the nautical terminology, particularly the unfamiliar or archaic words such as "bleat" and "jolly boat." In addition to illustrating items described in the chantey, the robust art cleverly interweaves a pirate adventure. (An appended note explains that the story is set on a United States Navy frigate around 1837 when pirates were still a menace.) In yet another subtext, a daring and mischievous young boy alerts the crew to the oncoming danger. His presence in the art imbues the book with humor and child appeal. The striking, hand-colored, scratchboard art, with its varied patterns and shifting perspectives, displays a strength that is well matched to this unique piece of seafaring lore.ACaroline Ward, Nassau Library System, Uniondale, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Some time in the 19th century, a sailor created this sea chantey, a rhythmic song to keep him and his mates working in tandem to keep a ship afloat. McCurdy (Trapped by the Ice!, 1997, etc.) has adapted the chantey into a picture book, with one line on each page``Oh, A is the anchor and that you all know''a scratchboard illustration, and a definition of terms below the picture. He makes a mighty effort toward clarity in describing and illustrating this US Navy frigate, although sometimes the vocabulary runs away with him, e.g., ``Capstan: A large, spool-shaped winch . . . turned by sailors using capstan bars.'' The function of chanteys is explained in a preface, and the whole chantey is reproduced at the end and keyed to an illustration of the full frigate, so all the parts can be seen together. The rectilinear geometry of the scratchboard illustrations is softened by watercolors to resemble old prints, and by the elegant angles found in various perspectives. The sailors in water-blue uniforms are young and rosy, or old and grizzled, and word-buffs and nautical enthusiasts will find plenty to pore overhalyards and lanyards, jibs and vangs. (Picture book. 5-9) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.