1, 2, Pirate Stew is a delightful new picture book hitting the stands this month by Kylie Howarth. Anyone with small children should already know and have read her books. She was author-illustrator of Fish Jam, shortlisted for the 2015 CBCA Crichton Award and reprinted three times, and Chip (2016). Her style is quirky and vibrant, using water soluble pencils, charmingly drawn over bright backgrounds – which Kylie tells us were originally painted by her two boys, Beau and Jack.
Her kids allegedly inspired the two busy boys in this new book, as they were playing around in the backyard in a large wooden box they found. They count from 1 to 22, and have tons of nautical adventures – all of which take place in a large cardboard box that they reimagine into their very own pirate ship! In the backyard, the two boys create a world of adventure, hunting down hidden treasure and engaging with enemy pirates (which, of course, are played by their faithful dog).
Their costumes are delightfully hodgepodge, clearly sourced from their own wardrobes, and their pirate resources are made from household items, seen as more than what they are, as only a kid is able to do. Their pirate hats are made of paper, their oars are shovels, and their fishing rods are balls tied to a stick. Such charming reinventions will encourage kids to go outside to see what adventure they can have in their own backyard. 1, 2, Pirate Stew encourages cooperative imaginative play, which will leave kids itching to grab a friend or a sibling and go searching for fun in their own house. While this book focuses on pirates, the imagination of the two boys is inspiring – kids can be pirates, astronauts, royalty, whatever they want, so long as they can imagine it.
The rhyme scheme is a great drawcard for 1, 2, Pirate Stew. The same metre and rhyme as One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, it’s easy to read or sing along, both for kids and adults, and encourages both reading and involvement. The repetition of the rhyme will stick in kids’ heads, allowing them to understand matching rhyming words, as well as memorising numbers one to twenty two. A great way to encourage counting while having fun, this book is both educational and quirky.
Perhaps not best for before bedtime, 1, 2, Pirate Stew will leave kids amped up and ready to go out and have fun. With a lovely moment of family and closeness at the end, this book encourages fun with friends and family – in a whole new imaginative way.