Booklist: Backbeard and the Birthday Suit

Booklist: Backbeard is the hairiest, toughest pirate ever, but following a particularly rowdy birthday party, even he admits that he’s a mess and it’s that time for new duds. The clothing store doesn’t have pirate gear, but it does have a straw boater, colorfully patterned trousers, a coat, and a pig––not the look Backbeard expected though one that brings both surprises and delights. Pirate fans will enjoy this witty tale about a coarse pirate who discovers his inner fashionista; it juxtaposes traditional pirate characters  (Sweaty McGhee, Mad Garlic Jack, etc.) and dialogue (“Drivelswigger!”) with a glimpse at a scallawag’s softer side (“Do your worst, you barnacled scalawags! . . . But wrinkle my suit and you’ll swab the deck for a year!”). McElligott’s mixed-media art is a joy, incorporating pattern, texture, and detailed, cartoonlike characters with scanned photographic images and sepia-toned borders that add depth and vintage flavor to a cheerful package.