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Whatever You Do, Don't Go near That Canoe!…
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Whatever You Do, Don't Go near That Canoe!

by Julie Lawson

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Originally published as Whatever You Do, Don’t Go Near that Canoe, The Pirates of Captain McKee is a rollicking adventure story that will have broad appeal to young children, especially those who love pirates.

A nominee for The 1996 Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literacy Award for illustration, The Pirates of Captain McKee tells the story of two children, a brother and sister, who are warned not to go near a canoe. The warning, given by Captain Kelsey McKee, is accompanied by a wink so the children are undeterred. They don lifejackets and climb into the canoe. Before long they find themselves well away from the dock.

Through fast-running currents, through slow-rolling tides,
Far into the fading light,
Through sun flecks and sunset, through dusk’s purple haze,
The canoe sped into the night.

Although returning to the safety of home seems a great idea, the children are not in control. The magical canoe is deciding their course. Just before dawn, the canoe and the children approach a pirate ship at anchor and many, many intimidating pirates onshore. The pirates recognize the canoe and decide to teach the children a lesson. Frightened about their predicament, the children fear the worst until they notice a “marvellous smell… There’s marshmallows roasting round here!”

Gorgeous illustrations and delightful rhyming text make this a wonderful read aloud for children aged four and up.

On our list of Wonderful Canadian Picture Books
http://goo.gl/bxDAro
  storytimestandouts | Jun 29, 2014 |
"A pirate ship! with a pirate flag, / Snapping above the waves; / And there on the shore, five dozen more / Piratical, seafaring knaves. (Lawson and Zimmerman, 1996, no pg #)

Narrated by a little girl, the story begins with Captain Kelsey McKee imploring the girl and her brother to stay away from his canoe. In an act of defiance, the children and a toy kangaroo set off in the canoe only to be whisked away in an encounter with pirates that turns into dancing, playing, and a marshmallow roast of epic proportions. The story is carried through each 2-page spread with four lines of catchy poetry, singsong in nature. The watercolor images are unique and enthralling. It is a clever little story with the enduring element of 'disregarding authority' that children love so much. A pleasing 'piratical' tale! ( )
  KoryD | Jul 25, 2013 |
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