There's no telling what a game of baseball might bring—but it's not every day that an afternoon at the ballyard includes ball-launching cannons and shovel-wielding base thieves! In Pirates at the Plate, a story conceived and illustrated by artist Mark Summers, with text by Aaron Frisch, a ballgame turns into a one-of-a-kind showdown between cowboys and pirates. With stars such as a slugging Blackbeard and a hard-throwing Wild Bill Hickok, the great summer pastime becomes a rowdy adventure.
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Sure, the Pirates play for Pittsburgh and the Cowboys play (football) in Dallas, but Summers and Frisch have something else in mind: buccaneers versus cowherds in a rousing, rules-defying game of baseball. Several storied figures appear: Wild Bill (Hickok) and Hopalong Cassidy pitch for the Cowboys (Cassidy is seen literally "warming up in the bullpen," toasting his hands over a campfire, surrounded by steer). Summers both illustrated and conceived of his debut children's book-his dramatic scratchboard caricatures of authors graced the signage and shopping bags at Barnes & Noble for years-and his illustrations give the book a regal air, despite the mischief players on both teams get up to and the many puns Frisch employs. When a "big-bopping Bluebeard wait[s] on deck, he's seen kneeling, baseball bat in hand, aboard a storm-tossed ship in an eerily majestic wordless spread. That somber mood doesn't last, though: on the next page, Long John (Silver) "blasts one deep to center field" using a cannon. It's a rip-roaring story, and even the twist ending doesn't diminish its sense of playfulness and fun. Ages 6-up. -Publishers Weekly