The BEST: Polly and the Pirates

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The BEST: Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifah
Reviewed by Uri C. Cohen

Summary: Polly and the Pirates is a black-and-white graphic novel is marketed to children, but adults can enjoy it too. In a quasi-Victorian society, goody-two-shoes Polly Pringle is happy to follow the rules of her proper boarding school. Her mother died when she was a baby, and Polly imagines that she was the most proper lady ever. But then Polly is kidnapped by pirates. They want her to become their new captain, since her mother was the infamous pirate queen! Polly denies it and escapes, but she is kidnapped again by a different group of pirates – much nastier – who blackmail her into helping them find her mother’s treasure map. Moral considerations play an important part in Polly’s decision making. The story has lots of action, and the artwork is an interesting blend of cartoonish and realistic.

Message: Like Polly, sometimes we need to decide between what is respectable and what is right. Also, like Polly, growing up sometimes involves accepting our parents for who they are and not who we would like them to be.

Consumption Time: 176 graphic pages.

Why this is The BEST: In the course of the story, Polly undergoes an amazing transformation. Once she realizes that she has made a terrible mistake, she does everything she can to correct it. She draws upon talents she didn’t know she had and becomes a moral hero as well as an action hero. This is remarkably similar to Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s character study of Esther in the Megilla (“If You Remain Silent at This Time: Esther’s Moral Development and Ours”). Polly and the Pirates is thus an unusual combination of a character transformation and an exciting pirate story.

Click here to read about “The BEST” and to see the index of all columns in this series.

[Published on December 19, 2019]

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