I like pirates named Jack (especially Jack Sparrow!), so I had fun reading Natalie Babbitt’s new book about Jack Plank, an unemployed former pirate, and I know my second graders are going to get a kick out of it when I start reading it aloud to them this week.
The book Jack Plank Tells Tales starts with “A Note to the Reader which says:
It doesn’t really matter, but in case you’re interested, Jack Plank is telling these tales on the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea, around the year 1720. There’d been a lot of pirates in those waters since Christopher Columbus came over from Spain, looking for India. India wasn’t there, but Columbus did find a lot of islands with a lot of treasure: gold and silver and other nice things. That was very good news to the Spanish king and queen, who sent ships right away to start removing it from the natives it belonged to and bringing it back to Spain. This made things easy for the pirates. They let Spain do the removing so that, later on, they could run down the Spanish ships and grab the lot. After about two hundred years, though, things weren’t quite so easy for pirates. There are a lot of reasons why this was so, but never mind. It’s just that Jack probably got out of the business at the right time.
Jack Plank was never much good as a pirate, and now he has given up his pirating life on the ship named Avarice, and moved into Mrs. DelFresno’s boarding house while he looks for a new job. His boarding house neighbors all try to help him find work, but he has a problem with each job suggested. Tales such as “Not a Farmer”…”Not a Goldsmith”…”Not an Actor”…explain why none of these jobs will work for him! The tales are terrific, and his boarding house neighbors loved them, and so did I. These tales are full of Natalie Babbitt’s creative humor, and she also did all the illustrations for the book. This is her first new book in a number of years, and I was so happy to see she had a new one out. It’s always a treat to have a new Natalie Babbitt to read!