Monday, May 07, 2007

The T-Rex, the Pirate, and the Supply Closet: Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

In a cheerfully off-beat English fantasy, the red-haired Flinn's two faves, pirates and dinosaurs, combine to provide a hearty, sea-faring adventure for kids of similar tastes in Giles Andreae's Captain Flinn and the Dinosaur Pirates.

Flinn's teacher Mrs. Pie sends him to the classroom supply closet for a packet of markers, but he is distracted by sniffles and snuffles emanating from a mound of old curtains. It's a whimpering pirate captain, by name of Cap'n Stubble, who tells a sad tale of the hijacking of his ship, The Acorn, by mysterious pirates roaring

Yo ho ho, Yo ho ho
(Something?, Something?,)
Go! Go! Go!

Flinn, joined by three adventurous classmates who have slipped into the closet behind him, vows to help Stubble recapture his ship. Following the traditional English fantasy formula, the back of the closet disappears, and the kids find themselves the crew of a disreputable privateer closing on Stubble's flagship, now flying the Jolly T-Rex as its ensign. Captain Flinn and his mateys board and take on the pirates, a crew made up of a diplodocus, a triceratops, and a pterodactyl, led by the fiercest pirate of all, Captain Tyrannosaurus Rex himself.
Flinn and Captain T-Rex duel for two hours before the T-Rex yields to his superior swordplay and swears fealty to Flinn as his new captain.

However, the prudent Flinn declines the honor for the moment in order to make it back to Mrs. Pie's classroom, toting his pirate hat and the markers, just in time for lunch with his class.

Russell Ayto (coincidentally a native of Penzance, England) provides quirky, busy illustrations which provide far more action than the rather British understated text, and the font design and layout keep the story moving along at a proper rate to the conclusion. Devotees of pirates and dinosaurs will find plenty to plunder in this fantasy adventure story.

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