Book: Pirate, Viking & Scientist
Author: Jared Chapman
Age Range: 3-6
Pirate, Viking & Scientist, by Jared Chapman, is a lively picture book about a boy (Scientist) who is friends with both a pirate and a viking. Scientist has a great time launching cannons with Pirate and dancing with Viking. However, to Scientist's regret, Viking and Pirate are NOT friends. Their rivalry casts a shadow over the boy's birthday celebration, leaving the boy "uncomfortable." Being a scientist, however, he attempts to solve the problem. Will BIRTHDAY CAKE be the answer, or will this thorny problem take further analysis?
I quite adore Scientist. He's this tiny boy in a lab coat and glasses. His discomfort when his two friends are fighting is obvious. His determination to fix the problem is clear - tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth in concentration. And when he gets out a chalkboard and draws his hypothesis (two unhappy friends + birthday cake = 2 happy friends), my inner geek cheers. Scientist doesn't give up, even when he is spattered with frosting, and his cake is ruined. He keeps trying new things, until he cracks the code.
Chapman's text is minimal. He uses short, punchy sentences, and leaves his vivid illustrations to fill in the details. So we have, across one page spread:
"Viking was boiling. Pirate was bloated.
Scientist was irritated (and covered in cake).
Scientist studied his results.
He didn't get the outcome
he'd wanted, but he wasn't
Maybe PARTY GAMES could help turn these foes into friends."
The party games can be seen in small sketches on the hypothesis chalkboard. The cake can be seen, well, everywhere. Viking is exaggeratedly broad-shouldered, with bushy facial hair and a Viking helmet. Pirate is skinny and ragged, with a bandana, a Pirate hat, and questionable teeth. The illustrations focus on the three characters, with a few props, and no real backgrounds. Instead, each page is shown with a faint graph paper background, perhaps a hint that a boy is drawing his own story. The end of the book, when the three now-friends all take to some "pillaging and plundering" is five-year-old boy heaven, with chaos everywhere.
Pirate, Viking & Scientist is a fun romp that includes a positive nod towards taking a scientific approach to problem-solving, set against larger-than-life, inherently cool characters behaving badly. The combination works, and should please both preschoolers and early elementary school children, especially boys. Libraries will definitely want to pick this one up. Teachers could even use it to introduce, in a very fun way, the concept of a hypothesis. Recommended!
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids)
Publication Date: November 11, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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