Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Poppy the Pirate Dog

Poppy the Pirate Dog

Liz Kessler
Illustrator:  Mike Phillips 
For ages 5 to 8
Candlewick Press, 2013   ISBN: 978-0763665692

The Brown family, including Poppy the dalmation, are going to the beach for a week-long vacation. As soon as they get to the seaside they go down to the harbor to explore. There is a hat shop on the waterfront and Dad ends up buying a hat for Mom and a scarf for Poppy. The scarf is black with pictures of white skulls and crossbones on it. It is the perfect scarf for a black and white dog, and when Poppy wears it she feels like she is Poppy the Pirate Dog. Poppy has looked at many pirates books with Tim and she therefore knows “all about pirates.” She knows that they are “exciting, daring, and dangerous.” She can be all those things too.

   Mom, Dad and the children decide that they are going to take four different kinds of boat trips. On the first day the will go on a fishing trip, on the second they will go seal spotting, on the third they will try out pedal boats, and on the fourth they will go out in speedboats. Poppy is thrilled. What could be better for a pirate dog than to go on four boat trips.

   Unfortunately, Poppy finds out that boat trips are nicer in theory than in reality. She has to be carried on the fishing boat because she is so scared of the unsteady movement of the boat, and once she is on board she hides in a corner. She does not like it one little bit when waves splash over the side of the boat.

   The next day Poppy is eager to try again. She jumps on board the seal spotting boat by herself and happily looks over the side. All is going well, until she sees “An enormous sea monster.” Poppy hides under a bench and decides that pirate dogs are not suited to seal-spotting trips either. Surely the pedal boat or the speed boat will be more pirate dog friendly. Or maybe not.

   Sometimes our dreams do not quite live up to our expectations, which can be very disappointing. Poor Poppy wants so much to be a proper pirate dog, but it turns out that she is not too keen on boats.

   In this charming chapter book, Liz Kessler tells a story that many children will be able to identify with, and she gives her readers a happy and thoroughly satisfying ending.