I often become visually disabled when I see such stunning artwork in a picture book. I sort of go into a bit of a trance and just sit there, staring, unable to even dive into the text. Even before I start reading the book, I’m left wondering – “how do they DO that?”
Indeed, how the talented Jonny Duddle (great name) can possibly create such images is beyond me, but what’s not beyond me is the ability to enjoy them, even in my semi-permanent sense of wonder. From the priceless emotion plastered across faces to the humour, the sleeting raindrops, the hair, the colour, the light, the sheer beauty of the imagery . . . wowzers.
But onto the story, which is really why we’re here.
Starring the indefatigable Jolley-Rogers, the story is told in limerick rhythm (thankfully done really well) and follows the tale of bored little Tilda, who hopes against hope that into the house next door will move another little girl, just like her. Instead, who should move in but a pirate boy, complete with eye patch, a wooden legged dog, treasure chests and barrels full of grog!
It’s the Jolley-Rogers! They’ve been sailing the seven seas but after a wee bit of landsickness, they’re keen for a rest onshore.
Of course, Tilda’s parents aren’t keen for their daughter to get involved with a family of buccaneering layabouts, but Tilda is thrilled – life certainly won’t be boring any more. But it’s not only the little girl’s parents who are keen to give the Jolley-Rogers the old heave-ho. The entire neighbourhood have issues with a pirate ship eyesore and scurvy dog shenanigans in the street.
But before the neighbourhood can sharpen their pitchforks and drive out the Jolley-Rogers, the pirates up and leave, back to their seven seas, leaving a very large and very curious X on the back lawns of each and every resident.
Wait ‘til you see how quickly the neighcours change their tune!
Featuring a mix-up of full page imagery with cartoon-style strips and speech bubbles, this is a beautifully-produced book with stunning imagery, layout and design – and most happily, has a clever, funny and totally entertaining storyline to boot.
I’m loving the so-totally-adult-oriented details in this book – the town sign on the endpapers – ‘Dull-on-Sea’ twinned with Ennui-sur-Mer’, for example, and the gorgeous ending which leaves me wanting more more more. Utterly delightful, in that landlubbing kind of way.
The Pirates Next Door is published by Koala Books.