September 25, 2012

On the high seas with Captain Blue Jay

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As anyone with a young son knows, pirates are fascinating and exciting. Many pirate stories, however, are too scary for a younger audience. In The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate, Scott Nash has created an ideal world of pirate birds—sailing in ships through the air—and this helps distance the danger for a younger reader. There is plenty of action in the fighting scenes, but nothing more intense than found in current kids’ movies and books.

Blue Jay is the captain of a pirate ship, complete with a frightening reputation, but he and his crewmates are actually quite nice. Even though they do steal grain and treasure from other ships, they aren’t as violent as Blue Jay’s cousin Teach and his gang of crows.

Captain Blue Jay, like most real blue jays, loves shiny things, and his acquisition of unusually pretty eggs leads to a curious new crewmate: Gabriel the gosling. With Teach hot on their trail, the merry band of birds aboard Blue Jay’s Grosbeak must battle weasels and look for help from a star-nosed mole to bring peace to their world.

Nash’s illustrations are phenomenal and his love of birds is evident in detailed descriptions of each species—right down to their personality characteristics. The characters’ voices steer the story along at a pace sure to keep youngsters reading (though parents should be aware that the language includes pirate words like “damn” and “hell”). This thrilling book should not be missed.

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