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The Pirate of Kindergarten, a book written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Lynne Avril, details the struggles, and ultimate triumph of an optically challenged little redhead named Ginny.

Ginny suffers from undiagnosed double vision. A condition that makes doing all the things she loves, like reading, drawing, and coloring, difficult. Ginny learns to squint and concentrate really hard in order to see properly. On “Vision Screening Day” a male nurse (nice touch Ms. Avril) tells Ginny that she has double vision, and refers her to an ophthalmologist. This visit turns Ginny into “a Kindergarten Pirate” granting her the competence, and confidence, to do all the things she loves.

Lyon’s short, yet descriptive sentences are wonderfully brought to life by Avril’s vibrantly colored illustrations. Chalk, pencil, and acrylic combine to create vivid, buoyant depictions of Ginny’s pre- and post-treatment world. Young readers will be undoubtedly entertained as double letters float across the pages, imaginary chairs abound, and a bunny grows a third ear. Offering a unique perspective on, well, the perspectives of others, Avril’s artwork delights while effectively portraying the struggles Ginny faces. Our favorite illustration, of Ginny gazing through the ophthalmologist’s phoropter, is this book’s most realistic. Dually, Avril makes this odd looking, imposing instrument appear far less so. Making this book a wonderful and soothing introduction to the world inside an ophthalmologist’s office for any nervous child.

While Lyon makes some mention that “someone always laughed,” overall Ginny does not seem to be bullied for her klutziness, errors in class, or ultimately, her eye patch – scenarios that if faced by a real child would likely result in far more social stigma and ridicule from peers. Regardless, positive subtle and not so subtle lessons abound in Lyon’s text, sending many feel good messages to young readers. We love Ginny’s love of school, and in particular reading.

Additionally, Lyon’s more meaningful messages regarding individuality and confidence shine loud and clear. While the book’s ending is a bit abrupt, leaving something to be desired, young readers will have enjoyed learning about Ginny’s sight, how it was corrected, and perhaps they will have learned a bit about the beauty and validity of all of our different perceptions.

Happy Reading!

Jess & Abby

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