Prather’s Pick: 'Pirates Love Underpants' is a lively picture book

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Diane Prather

— One can’t help but admire the creative abilities of picture book authors. Just coming up with ideas for the books is an incredible talent. Take this week’s picture book, for example.

“Pirates Love Underpants” (2013) was written by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Ben Cort. (The writer and illustrator live in England.) The book is the newest addition to the Underpants series, which include “Dinosaurs Love Underpants” and “Aliens Love Underpants.”

The illustrator has drawn the underpants so that they appear to have come from different fabrics, including those with polka dots, stripes, flowers, anchors, ghosts, man-in-the-moon, geometric designs and lots of others. A couple of the underpants appear to be more like bloomers. One pair is made from a fabric printed with a skull-and-crossbones design; however, this pair of bloomers also has ruffles and is tied at the waist with a red bow. Imaginative, indeed!

Just about every character in the book wears underpants. That includes a cat, dog, parrot, monkey and even a crab. Some sharks wear underpants that have been pulled up over their fins. The pirates all wear underpants over top of their other clothing!

As the book begins, the pirates are loading up the Black Bloomer — their ship — with crates, kegs, vegetables, fruit and supplies wrapped in cloth. Several lines of underpants are drying way up near the sails. These pirates really love their underpants!

While the ship is being loaded, the captain unfurls a scroll and shows some of his men a picture of a golden pair of underpants on a pedestal. The pirates are going on a quest to find the golden underpants, named the Pants of Gold, so that the captain can add them to his other treasures.

The captain knows where to find the Pants of Gold. Once the ship is underway, he spreads a treasure map out on a table.

Before long, the ship sails into Big Knickers Bay, where the sharks jump around in the water, showing off their fancy underpants. The captain and three other pirates row ashore. They’re surprised to find footprints in the sand. Some other individuals have been there already.

The pirates follow the footprints over the dunes, across Three Pants Ridge and across Long-John Bridge. The bridge doesn’t really look like a bridge at all. To say that it sags is to put it mildly. Seven hungry crocodiles wait below, with mouths open, to catch the pirates.

But the pirates make it across the bridge. They travel through swamps and dark caves, one with spiders, bones and a snake. They make it through undergrowth until there, hidden in some thick foliage, they find some other pirates. They have the Pants of Gold, but they’re fast asleep.

The sleeping pirates make up a hilarious sight. One pirate, wearing a golden earring, holds his teddy bear. Another has a cat sleeping across his stomach. Still another sucks on his thumb as he sleeps. A dog with an eye patch sleeps soundly in his red underpants. This other pirate crew has no idea that the captain and his men are in the foliage.

What to do? The captain has a plan to take the Pants of Gold!

The book ends with a surprise.

This very imaginative and funny book is done in brightly colored and lively illustrations. The book is intended for ages 4 to 7, but it is a great book to read to read to younger children, too.

“Pirates Love Underpants” is published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publications (2-13).

The hardcover book costs about $15.99. You can also find the book in the children’s room at the Moffat County Library.

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