BooksForKidsBlog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Corsairs' Christmas: A Pirate's Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates


'Twas the night before Christmas aboard the Black Sark.
Not a creature was stirrin', not even a shark!

The stockin's were stuck to the bowsprit with tar,
In hopes that Sir Peggedy soon would be thar.

The pirates were snoozin' like pigs in thar beds,
While visions of treasure chests danced in thar heads.

Spoofing Clement C. Moore's trusty old standard has become a popular indoor sport during the Santa season, and Philip Yates' new A Pirate's Night Before Christmas is a welcome addition to the caricatures of Christmas lore out there.

Yates builds on the current pirate mania with a sprightly parody of a privateer's holiday eve, narrated by the ship's boy who reports the events from his late-night lookout in the crow's nest. As he keeps the watch and hopes for a Christmas Eve visit from the seafarer's saint, the boy sees a curious barnacled sleigh drawn by giant sea horses emerge from the foam and land nimbly on deck.

More sluggish than flounders his coursers they came.
And he whistled and snarled and called them by name.

Now Salty, now Scurvy, now Sinbad and Molly.
On Cutthroat, on Cross-Eyes, on Roger and Jolly!

With a hearty "Avast," the boy rouses the crew, and they realize that their invader must indeed be the longed-for Sir Peg.

His eye--how it twinkled! His dreadlocks how twiny.
His scars were like crossbones, his gold tooth how shiny!

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his sack,
An' stuffed all the stockin's with coins and hardtack.

A cauldron for Cook filled with pieces of shank,
An' just for the Cap'n a shiny new plank.

But the ship's boy despairs of his own Christmas swag as Sir Peggedy urges his coursers into the air again, until the old sea dog shows he has something up his sleeve besides his hook.

Then just when I thought it's me worst Christmas Day,
A parchment of paper flew down off the sleigh.

An' it was the best present I ever got,
A map to a treasure--X marks the spot!

But I heard him exclaim 'ere he splashed 'neath the stars,
"Merry Christmas, me buckos, an' a Happy New Yaarrgghhhhhhh!"

Kids will love A Pirate's Night Before Christmas instantly, but this book has possibilities for grownups as well. Just imagine an improvised costumed reading of this new classic at your next Christmas party! Break out the grog, practice up on yer "Yaarrrrs" and repeat after me: "Now Salty, Now Scurvy, Now Sinbad and Molly. On Cutthroat, On Cross-Eyes, On Roger and Jolly!" A shipshape pirate's glossary is appended to help inventive poets contrive their own salty verses with buccaneer lingo like "poop deck" and "cackle fruit." This new lampoon leaps into its merry place with seasonal burlesques such as Trosclair's Cajun Night Before Christmas (Night Before Christmas Series), Noel Thomas' Hillbilly Night Afore Christmas (Night Before Christmas Series), and their many fellow spoofers.

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