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Starred Publishers Weekly Review for Pirates on the Farm

Pirates on the Farm

Written by Denette Fretz, Illustrated by Gene Barretta. Zonderkidz

Chaos reigns in this humorous and heartwarming first book in the Next Door series, in which pirates become neighbors to a staid farm family. The daughter narrates her family’s varied responses to the pirates’ strange speech, style, and customs. For example, when they build a new barn to resemble a pirate ship: “Mother called it ‘disgraceful.’ Joey begged to walk the plank. Dad nailed down loose boards.” Barretta’s (Sheetzucacapoopoo: My Kind of Dog) illustrations capture the hilarious incongruity of the pirates’ attempts to join their new community: a church scene shows the pirates looting the offering, to congregants’ dismay. Another scene has them commandeering the Christmas pageant, upset that “anyone would put a baby in a feeding trough.” Although the townspeople initially rally against the perceived interlopers, they gradually become more welcoming as they come to know their neighbors. This well-crafted, entertaining story delivers a subtle but powerful message. An endnote to parents includes discussion topics for the family. Ages 4–7.

Released August 20, 2013

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