THE TREASURE SEARCH

In honor of the release of Disney’s latest movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” Chaucer’s Children’s Department had a treasure trove of pirate books on display.

Among those was “Pirate Pete” (Kim Kennedy). “Where there’s gold, I’m a-goin’!” is Pirate Pete’s motto, but it tends to cause him more trouble than good. After successfully stealing the Queen’s treasure map, Pirate Pete and his trusty Parrot set out to dig up the gold. Despite the Parrot’s warnings, Pete keeps getting distracted along the way. So when parrot and pirate finally do dig up the treasure, the queen and her troops arrive before the pair can leave the island with it. Full of bright, color-filled, comic-style drawings, the book is certain to delight any 2- to 6-year-old.

Did you know humans are not the only ones who enjoy the beach? Cleverly written in rhyme, “Bats at the Beach” (Brian Les), exposes a different pastime for these nocturnal creatures. As the full moon appears, the bats decide it is a perfect night for a trip to the beach, where they do all the “at the beach” things people do, but with a bat twist. For example, young bats make “sand caves” rather than “sand castles;” they lather themselves up with “moon-tan lotion”; and “wing boat races” are among the favorite water-fun activities. Done in the dark tones of night, the illustrations will tickle the imaginations of children ages 3 to 8, as well as the adults who read the books to them.

Seemly tinged with scary overtones, “The Sea Monster” (Chris Wormell) is actually a very sweet story. The barnacle-covered Sea Monster lives at the bottom of the sea and it feels rather ominous that this monster slinks out of the ocean to hide among the rocks on the beach in order to watch people. So apprehension is appropriate when one day a boy is playing with his toy boat in the tide pools and he spies the gleaming eye of the Sea Monster. The boy is distracted from his investigation, however, when his boat starts to sail out to sea. When the boy jumps in the ocean to retrieve his boat, the current draws him far out to sea. The tension mounts as an observant old fisherman and the boy’s dog search the waves for the boy, who suddenly appears standing on a barnacle and limpet-covered rock. Later, safe in the home of the fisherman, the boy searches the sea for the rock that saved his life, but he cannot find it. What happened? The last page holds the clue as down in the sea, the Sea Monster is playing with his new toy boat. While full of precautions and subtle suspense, the gentle illustrations will give a sense of security to the child. And imagine the fun of looking for Sea Monsters during your next trip to the beach.

The “Castaway Cats” (Lisa Wheeler) have definitely a low opinion of the beach. The 15 cats – seven kittens and eight adults – find themselves seeking shelter and food on a small island after their ship is wrecked. Successful in both these endeavors, they turn their attention to building a boat in order to get off this undesirable place. But this leads to squabbling and fighting and injuries all around. When the cats realize they must work together to survive, they also discover how much they like being a family, and decide to stay on the island. Besides being a fun read, this is an unusual counting book as children are encouraged to find the different cats in the picture. There is also subtle addition groupings in the little rhymes strewn through the pages, a wonderful way to introduce the mathematical concept to young children.

For the very young there is “Dimity Duck” (Jane Yolen). “Dimity Duck waddles, she toddles” and does all sorts of other action words throughout her day in a simple story that alludes to a typical day in the life of a small child. Though Dimity may live on a pond, she still gets dressed in the morning, eats breakfast, plays games with her friend, Frumity Frog, and finally prepares for going to bed at night. The illustrations are bright, colorful, simple pictures for young eyes and the words are rhythmically fun-sounding for young ears, making this a delightful read aloud book for infants and toddlers.

These are just a few of the treasures you will find in the cool atmosphere of your local bookstore. And if you see a woman in a quiet corner with a small dog, surrounded by stacks of books, just walk on by – I’m reading.