________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 9 . . . . November 3, 2017


Captain Monty Takes the Plunge.

Jennifer Mook-Sang. Illustrated by Liz Starin.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2017.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.99.
ISBN 978-1-77138-626-5.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Meredith Cleversey.

**** /4



Monty the Malodorous was a fearsome pirate who sailed the six or seven seas. He was brave. He was bold. He was brilliant with his sword. When he raised the Jolly Roger, other ships turned and fled. And when he cruised into port, other pirates handed over their treasure.

But Monty had a secret: he could not swim.

While the other pirates jumped into the ocean for their Saturday scrub, Monty stood on a cannon and bellowed, "Real pirates don't bathe! Yar-har-har!"

This attitude earned him much respect (and a great deal of personal space).

In Captain Monty Takes the Plunge, Monty the pirate has a problem. Although he can fight with a sword, plunder with expert ease, and command his ruthless crew, Monty doesn't know how to swim, a secret that keeps him from joining his fellow pirates in their weekly sea bath. When he meets Meg, a mermaid who makes his heart go ka-thunk, Monty's fearsome stench keeps his romantic hopes at bay. But when Meg is captured by a dastardly octopus, Monty knows he'll have to risk sinking to the bottom of the seas if he wants to save her life.

      Captain Monty Takes the Plunge is a fun, heartwarming tale of friendship and bravery. Monty is a likeable pirate, a confident captain with a soft spot for Meg and a secret insecurity about his inability to swim. Meg is an equally important character, a mermaid who loves to read and who teaches Monty how to sail his ship by the constellations. The two make a good team, even once the terrible octopus catches Meg in its grips. Monty braves the water and tickles the octopus to free Meg from its tentacles, and Meg then swims Monty back to the surface to save him as well. It is a nice twist to see that the "damsel in distress" is also capable of saving the hero, especially since, after they are safely above water once more, Monty confides his secret and Meg begins to teach him how to swim. The two work together, and the result is a happy friendship that is stench-free.

      Liz Starin's watercolour illustrations are the perfect companion to the text of this story. Bright colours and patterned outfits help bring Monty's pirate crew to life while more muted pages of grey and beige reflect Monty's dreary mood after he's been rejected by Meg because of his smell. Underwater scenes of Meg swimming are particularly effective as the blooming blue shades of the sea give the water a good sense of movement. Readers will also enjoy discovering things in the illustrations that are not mentioned in the text, like how Monty the pirate is actually a pirate dog.

      Captain Monty Takes the Plunge is an entertaining story about one pirate captain's discovery of the importance of a good swim (and a good wash). An excellent pick for fans of swashbuckling adventures with a touch of humour and romance.

Highly Recommended.

Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write and live in a world of pure imagination.

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