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Phoebe Gilman

Richmond Hill (Ont.), Scholastic-TAB, 1990. 32pp, cloth, ISBN 0-590-73220-X
Also available in French as Grand-mere et les pirates.

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8
Reviewed by Jane Robinson.

Volume 18 Number 6
1990 November

From the very first line, readers are "hooked" by Phoebe Gilman's newest book, a fast-paced adventure on the high seas. Three nasty, despicable pirates pitted against two gentle, virtuous females set the scene in this long-ago tale of brains triumphing over brawn. In Grandma and the Pirates, readers quickly become involved in the heroic attempt of a young girl named Melissa to rescue her grandmother and Oliver the parrot, who have been kidnapped by pirates.

Phoebe Gilman's prose is as rhyth­mic as the waves and her story-telling technique is reminiscent of yarns spun by fishermen and sailors of days past. The writing style contains simple but very effective descriptions, and the changes in mood and structure are in keeping with the roll of an ocean setting.

The illustrations provide wonderful images for the text. The contrasts in the characters, the setting and the mood of the narrative are captured in the colours, expressions and backgrounds in the illustrations. Pictures of the sea are calmly serene or deep and darkly mysterious, almost threatening. Pic­tures of Grandma, Melissa and their world are painted in warm pastels while pictures of the pirates are painted with deeper, brighter colours. Likewise for character portrayal — Grandma and Melissa have kindly faces while the pirates are gleefully wicked. Delight­fully, in almost every illustration and certainly those containing the pirates, there is an element of humour to ensure the reader has a lot of fun and does not take it all too seriously.

Jane Robinson, Winnipeg, Man.
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