NOTE: Received these books from Penguin Random House in exchange for a review.
Wally is a pup with a nose for adventure. So when he stumbles onto a ragtag group of puppies who sail the seven seas, he knows he has to join the fun! But if pirates are supposed to be gruff and tough, this furry little guy isn’t exactly first-mate material. Does he have what it takes to become a full-fledged puppy pirate? — [X]
In the first book Stowaway! Wally, a homeless puppy, steals onto a pirate ship in order to have adventures and make a home with friends. But being a pirate comes with some pre-requisites. Being tough, for example, is something that Wally is physically incapable of doing:
“I’m Wally.” Wally sat politely and offered his paw to shake. “And I want to be a pirate.”
All the other dogs laughed. “A pirate?” someone gasped. “You’re too soft and little!”
Wally is almost made to walk the plank when an old sea dog (ha ha) named Old Salt convinces the crew to spare Wally and his human companion, Henry. Together, the two set about following the captain’s orders and proving their worth. By the end of the book, Wally and Henry manage to provide crucial aid to the puppy pirates when faced with their nemesis the kitten pirates and cement their positions as permanent member of the crew. In the end, resourcefulness and quick-thinking trumps toughness– something I’m sure younger readers will appreciate as much as I did. X Marks the Spot is a similarly adorable tale involving a race to find hidden treasure, this time clashing with another crew of dogs, led by Rosie the dalmatian.
Overall, I found the stories were easy to follow– obviously a good thing in a chapter book series– and the writing is quite fun. Piratical words and phrases are often repeated in keeping with Wally’s world, of course, but also because I think kids who are first introduced to pirates (I mean, the pirates presented in children’s media, not actual pirates) might find the language funny and entertaining. Another fun thing about the language used in these books is Red Beard’s severe case of malapropism. Though maybe it isn’t exactly malapropism– the words sound similar enough, but often have to do with doggy life. For example: “unpoopitable” instead of “unacceptable”, and “sit-you-station” instead of “situation”. Not gonna lie, I giggled each time.
The illustrations, personally, did not do anything for me. But that’s just because I realized after reading these books that I like dogs because they’re dogs. Reading about them doing human things was a little weird. Watching them parade around in human clothes (gendered human clothes!), doing human things was … a bit much. That said! I do believe that kids will relish the pictures as well as the words. They are both rather funny and extremely cute. If your kids like puppies or pirates or wordplay, maybe check this series out!