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Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta

by Lisa Wheeler
Illustrated by Mark Siegel

Published by A Richard Jackson Book / Atheneum, 2004
40 pages
ISBN: 0-689-85689-X

Ages 7-12

Opera buffs, graphic novel aficionados, and would-be pirates - who'd have thought this disparate group would meet in a children's book? They do, and most successfully, in Seadogs. In true comic book style, this unusual story is told in a combination of nearly wordless pages that require careful picture-reading and brief cartoon-bubble dialogues. The words are actually rousing lyrics of full-length songs. It begins when a small brown puppy, clearly a first-time opera goer, squirms in her seat as she waits for the curtain to rise. Shifting visual perspectives show the rest of the audience, the cast, and the orchestra pit, canines one and all. The opera opens with an introduction to the story's archetypal characters. The salty old "seadog" captain, a brave beagle first mate, and the cook-underdog dachshund set off on "one last sail" aboard the vessel Beauty. Their journey rockets from one adventure to the next: pirate attack, a stowaway, a storm at sea, the requisite mutiny, a treasure map, and a dash of romance. This unusual book scores in both its design and commitment to fun. Young readers will revel in the light-hearted word play (as when the dachshund laments his job as cook, "Doggone it! I am meant for more than sausage links and kibble.") As the cast takes their curtain call, the puppy from the first page is standing on her seat to applaud. The story comes full circle as she, in a post-theatre glow, imagines herself starring in all the roles. CCBC Categories: Picture Books for School-Aged Children. (MVL) 2004 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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