El Pirata de la Pata de Pato/Who Stole My Leg?  by José Carlos Andrés,  illustrated by Myriam Cameros Sierra

El Pirata de la Pata de Pato/Who Stole My Leg?  by José Carlos Andrés,  illustrated by Myriam Cameros Sierra. NubeOcho, c2013, 2022. 9788494597114, 9788417673659

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  Originally published in Spanish, this zany picture book features a peg-legged “evil” pirate. He’s so frightening (wink, wink) that he doesn’t even look in mirrors, for fear he’ll scare himself, and spends most of his time in his cabin. His crew strategically swaps his wooden-leg for a series of slapstick alternatives, including a rubber duck, a spring, a big hairy dog, and finally a pencil, which he uses to draw and write the stories of his adventures. The pirate (revealed in the last few pages) and his crew are all kids, wearing shorts and diapers, and greatly resembling the Rugrats. The illustrations were creative, absorbing, and highly stylized, if slightly creepy. They have an appealing messy and layered look that conveys the actual chaos one would expect on a pirate ship run by children.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I called on two bilingual high school seniors to help me with the translation, although even I could see that the text in the English version was much shorter. They pointed out that the original Spanish version had far richer and more figurative language; a pair of brothers in the English version creep into the captain’s captain to attach the big hairy dog to his leg, but in the Spanish version, the mischievous twins are described as “como dos gatos de agua salada” (as alike as two drops of salt water). I also thought the idea of tormenting someone with a prosthetic leg was a little icky, although maybe I’m being overly sensitive. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  If you’re in the market for more authentic Spanish texts and have a lot of pirate fans, this could be a good pick, but probably not the English one. Children who’ve enjoyed How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long or Pirate’s Perfect Pet by Beth Ferry may enjoy this silly adventure.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries looking to add more books in Spanish

Where would you shelve it? Picture books 

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: March 15, 2022

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