I love a book that makes me laugh out loud -- and I don't mean the now meaningless LOL, which seems to me the blah equivalent of "Yeah, funny." I mean a book that causes me to bust out in a big, fat, bellowing guffaw .
I also love me some pirates. Even better when the pirates are girls.
That is why I gotta recommend Kara LaReau's terrific middle grade novel, "The UNINTENTIONAL ADVENTURE'S OF THE BLAND SISTERS: The Jolly Regina". Here is the first sentence. "If you ever find yourself on the road to Dullsville, you might encounter an unassuming house. In it reside the Bland sisters, Jaundice and Kale." Yep! LaReau actually had the guts (and the imagination) to name those two girls Jaundice and Kale. And so it begins.
The joke is of course that the book is the opposite of bland. The girls, whose parents have mysteriously disappeared, are soon hauled away in a burlap sack. Before they can say "Ahoy, matey", they are dumped onto the deck of The Jolly Regina, a pirate ship whose crew and captain are a zany bunch of women, pirates, of course, many of whom you might recognize. Think of your Great Aunt Beulah. With an eye-patch.
I love the humor in this book. And I love the rollicking narrative. But what I REALLY love is LaReau's mastery over the language she uses to tell her story. If you're looking for a good course in pirate lingo, look no farther.
A shout-out, too, to the book's designer (don't know who it is) and the wonderful illustrator, Jen Hill. Each chapter begins with a dictionary definition of a vocabulary word: tepid, negligence, scrimshaw, materialistic are some examples. Who says pirates aren't articulate? Hill's illustrations are, well, perfect.
If you have a middle-grade child who is on the road to Dullsville, you couldn't do better than to direct them to The Blands. And notice I said child, not girl. Boys, man up, ye scurvy lubbers!. You'll love this one, too.