Friday 17 February 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th February 2017 - "The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters - The Jolly Regina" by Kara LaReau and Jen Hill (Amulet Books)

This week's Chapter Book of the Week contains all the sass, spice and influences of some of our favourite book series, but sets sail beautifully on its own tack. Meet The Bland Sisters...!
It's very easy for us to fall hopelessly in love with certain books. I remember seeing some murmurings about this book on Twitter, spotting some of the artwork and excerpts from it fairly early on, then wistfully sighing and hoping that it'd arrive in bookstores on this side of the pond very soon.

So hooray! "The Unintentional Adventures of The Bland Sisters - the Jolly Regina" is here so you, dear reader, will get to experience one of the funniest children's books of the year so far.

If you, like me, want to ensure that your daughter carries with her throughout her life the strongest possible sense that anything boys can do girls can do better, or really want to ensure that she's interested in feminist topics as early as possible without sounding too pushy or preachy, you just cannot understate the brilliance of books like this.

The Bland Sisters - Jaundice and Kale (look out for THOSE names in next year's Tatler's new baby names list) lead a very ordinary and uneventful - some might say mind-crushingly mundane - life. Their parents popped out for an errand many years before, and haven't been seen since - so the sisters have eked out a living in their house, mostly cut off completely from the outside world.

But all that is set to change. One day there's a knock at the door, and the insistent stranger will not go away until the sisters have answered. Once they do, they're whisked away in a burlap bag by an unseen kidnapper! EEEK!

The miscreant is soon revealed as the most nefarious female pirate to ever set sail...

"So ye think ye're saved do ye? Think again, swabs!"
Captain Dead Eye Delilah isn't some warm cuddly jolly Jack Tar, she's a hard-drinking hook-armed pirate who - along with an equally unfriendly crew - sail the seven seas bashing the heck out of passing male pirate crews and stealing all their treasure and goodies (and their pants for good measure to fly from the mainsail of the Jolly Regina).

Jaundice and Kale are put to work as deck swabs, and soon get to experience first hand just how nasty these pirate wenches (their own words, not mine) are! AIIEEEEE!

As the Good Ship Testosterone sails into view, those vicious vixens have only one thought in mind - play underhand, lure those dolts into a false sense of security, then raid their vessel, duff them up and nick all their booty! YAR HARRRR!

But Dead Eye Delilah's ambitions don't stop there - she has a loftier treasure in mind, the long lost treasure of Captain Ann Tennile (which is a joke that someone of my age would hoot with laughter at the minute they hear that name - but took quite a bit of explaining to Charlotte why I found that name funny!)

How will The Bland Sisters survive at sea? Will they be forced to become unwilling accomplices to these hellishly fiendish female pirates? Will Mum and Dad ever return from their mysterious errand?

Don't be fooled, these gals mean business!
We absolutely ATE THIS BOOK UP, reminding us at first of brilliant dark stuff like "A Series of Unfortunate Events" and some of Roald Dahl's darker stories. There are so many fantastic touches for kids who always have a huge amount of love for baddies (or at least characters who seem a pretty nasty lot at first glimpse) and there's enough hilarity in here for adults reading to their kids who, like me, will massively understand exactly where Kara LaReau is coming from - and also love Jen Hill's utterly BRILLIANT illustrations.

We've often moaned about the fact that the children's book market is saturated with pirate books, but then one like this comes along and completely takes us by surprise.

Full of mighty girl promise that it delivers on in spades, full of utterly fantastic devious and downright saucy characters who do not take any rubbish from the daft men who fetch up in this tale. Most importantly though, full of originality and fun.

Stop loafing about landlubber, go and get a copy NOW!

Charlotte's favourite bit: She's rather attached to the jolly ship's cook who you REALLY wouldn't want to mess with in a fight.

Daddy's favourite bit: A mighty bodacious barnacle-busting riot of a book. If you've got daughters at home who love strong female characters, or boys at home who could do with a lesson in humility, this is the book you need!

"The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters - The Jolly Regina" by Kara LaReau and Jen Hill is out now, published by Amulet Books (kindly sent for review)