Book: Stinky Spike: The Pirate Dog
Author: Peter Meisel
Illustrator: Paul Meisel
Age Range: 5-7 (Illustrated early reader, full-color)
Stinky Spike: The Pirate Dog kicks off a new series in Bloomsbury's Read & Bloom line of early readers with full color illustrations. Written by Peter Meisel and illustrated by Paul Meisel, the book introduces Spike, a dog who works at a shipyard chasing away birds, and who excels at chasing down bad smells. One day, in the course of his duties, Spike falls in the water and is swept out to sea, saved only by an old wooden bucket full of bits of rotten fish. After some adventures on the high seas, Spike is taken in by a crew of a rather inept pirates, who christen him Stinky Spike. But can Stinky Spike's strong nose help the pirate crew in their quest for treasure?
Peter Meisel's text is kid friendly, full of strong, alliterative sentences, not too difficult for newer readers. Like this:
"Spike was in trouble. "Scram, flappers!" he howled as he bolted at the birds.
But there was a patch of slippery, slimy seaweed on the dock. Spike's paws slid out from under him. He skidded off the edge of the dock.
SPLASH! Spike landed in the ocean." (Page 18)
And here are the pirates talking:
"Crusty clam shells! This sea dog stinks worse than rotten anchovies." Zip gagged.
"Or spoiled sardine stew!" Zelda choken.
"Blimey, that's quite a stench. What be your name, mutt?" Fishbeard scowled.
Bonus points for the ship having a female first-mate. With an eye patch, no less.
Pirates, a dog, and a host of bad smells. What is not to like for the kindergarten and first grade crowd? Stinky Spike: The Pirate Dog has three chapters, wide text spacing, and at least a half-page of illustration for every page spread. Paul Meisel's illustrations are full of entertaining details, like fish literally poking out of Captain Fishbeard's beard. He uses wavy lines to indicate the presence of bad smells, of which there are many. The pirates are ragged but not at all intimidating, and Spike himself is an intrepid, if pungent, figure. In short, this is a fine addition to the ranks of early readers. A second installment, Stinky Spike and the Royal Rescue, releases on the same day as the first (though I have not seen that one). I suspect that Stinky Spike will be a hit with the primary-grade crowd, and that other titles will be forthcoming. Recommended, especially for libraries serving new readers.
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (@BloomsburyKids)
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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