Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Jolly Regina - The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau illustrated by Jen Hill

"After all, they left us alone for all these years.  Then they gave us to pirates, which was almost fun, until we almost died. I don't know much about parents, but I have a feeling ours aren't exemplary"

In this book you will meet twins Jaundice and Kale Bland.  They live in Dullsville.  Jaundice wears gray and Kale wears brown. Their daily routine is exactly the same each day.  Oatmeal and tea for breakfast, a ten minute lunch break to eat a cheese sandwich with a glass of flat soda and an evening spent reading the dictionary.

"Kale is seldom seen without her backpack, in which she currently carries Dr. Nathaniel Snoote's Illustrated Children's Dictionary ... (this) is the Bland sisters' favorite reading material, and their main source of education."

Along with word definitions (many of which appear as chapter headings in this tale of wild women pirates, high seas adventures and dangerous situations) the dictionary also has informative Sidebars with extra information such as how to sew.  The girls have set up a business of darning other people's socks.  Are you wondering about the parents?  Well they left on an errand and have not been seen for several years.

As the book opens a kidnapper arrives and the girls are caught in a burlap sack.  Kale loves burlap but after travelling in this sack she decides it is quite chafing. When the girls are finally released they find themselves on a pirate ship - The Jolly Regina with her all women crew - Deadly Delilah the Captain, Lefty the first mate with her hook hand, Peg who has one leg, Millie Mudd the lookout and Fatima the cook.

There are quite a few laughs in this book and some clever vocabulary.  It might be a good family read-a-loud but be warned adults will laugh (especially at all the puns) and this may leave a younger audience puzzled.   Chapters begin with words like tepid, predicament, paraphernalia, bereft and vehemence.

Here are some examples of the words you will encounter in the text -

  • left to run an errand of unspecified nature
  • relative peril
  • surmised
  • sundries
  • the distinct, briny aroma of the ocean

I recommend reading this detailed and thoughtful review by Jen Robinson and one from Kirkus.  This book is also available from iTunes and I may use this version with one of our classes this year so everyone can see the perfect little illustrations scattered throughout the text.

You can also read the inspiration for this book by Kara LaReau.  This is the first book in the series. The second which you can see here will be published next year.   A big thank you to my local bookshop for introducing me to this rollicking adventure.

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