The Cursed Pirate Girl

Jeremy Bastian, Author, Jeremy Bastian, Illustrator
Jeremy A. Bastian. Archaia (dist. by Diamond), $24.95 (152p) ISBN 978-1-93639-360-2
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With a dash of Pippi Longstocking in her biography, this scrappy young heroine takes to the high seas to find her father, a pirate king, and encounters scores of decrepit pirates, as well as a pair of swordfish in full armor among dangers galore. This swashbuckling fantasy reveals Bastian has his old-fashioned chops down, not only in art style but with the language of the story and the structure of the escapade. In addition the book itself is a gorgeously detailed evocation of old books, from the scalloped paper to the lovely endpapers. The dialogue is appropriately archaic, even stilted in a purposeful way, and the journey is episodic in the tradition of children’s adventure, like Alice in Wonderland, wherein every character encountered by the heroine amounts to a personality type that confounds her and each persona invites verbal sparring before she is able to move along. Bastian’s art captures 19th-century humorous illustration and cartoon styles with deliberate grotesques and complex visual clutter—think Thomas Nast meets Albrecht Dürer—and while what results can sometimes obstruct the flow of the adventure , the result is both a beautiful object and an evocative adventure. (Dec)
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