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Baltazar and the Flying Pirates

Oliver Chin, Illustrated by Justin Roth

Baltazar and the Flying Pirates Written by Oliver Chin Illustrated by Justin Roth Long ago, in a land not too far away, a pirate buried a chest of priceless riches. He marked the spot with an “X” and vanished into the mist. The loot would remain lost until one of his descendants returned to claim it. Now Baltazar enjoyed hearing such tall tales from his grandpa. “Tell me another story,” he begged. “I’ll save the best for tomorrow, since it’s past your bedtime!” replied Grandpa. “Good night, Captain Kidd, and sweet dreams.” That night the boy dreamt of a ghostly boat gliding on the waves of a moonlit ocean. Suddenly the clock struck midnight, and he was rustled out of bed. "Ahoy there, Matey!” grinned a swashbuckling rogue. “We’ve sailed the seven seas to find you.” “Please forgive Mr. Flynn,” purred a silken voice. “My name is Redlocks. I’m Captain of the Cutlass, the fastest ship in the skies.” “And we’re the Corsairs!” added the bandits outside Baltazar’s window, where the Jolly Roger waved proudly. “You’re pirates!” blurted Baltazar. “And you’re flying!” “Yes, but listen close,” whispered Redlocks. “Your great-great granddad was Greybeard who hid our fortune.” “Luckily we discovered the Fountain of Youth, and have searched for his map ever since,” said Mr. Flynn. “We just found it, but it’s missing the key piece...” “…where X marks the spot,” finished Baltazar. Grandpa told Baltazar this legend from the letters his grandpa had read to him. “The prize lies deep in a swamp,” the boy continued. “You have Greybeard’s cleverness,” smiled Redlocks. “Be our guide, and we’ll have an adventure you’ll not forget.” The boy agreed, kissed his brother Henry and sister Morgan goodbye, and climbed aboard. Such a band of brigands, Baltazar never had seen. “Everything’s shipshape, Captain,” reported Davy Jones. Baltazar pointed south, so Redlocks commanded, “Set sail for the second star on the right and straight on ’til morning.” The Cutlass sliced through the sky, and Black Bart gave the boy a tour. Cortés steered the helm. Big Queeg swabbed the decks. Playing cards with the twins, Francis and Drake, Long John Silver grinned, “Here’s a piece of eight for ya, Laddie.” However, the boy yawned and curled in a hammock to sleep. Dawn crept over the horizon. Atop the crow's nest, Anne Bonney called, “Land ho!” Redlocks woke Baltazar to hear a rising tide of noise. “Who built a town over our treasure?” gasped Francis and Drake. Yonder loomed a sprawling, sensational park of amusement! Baltazar reassured everyone, “When I come here, we spend money, not find it.” “Well, time’s a wasting,” noted Redlocks. “Let’s claim our reward.” Quickly, Big Queeg parked the Cutlass, and Mr. Flynn led a landing party towards the front gate. However, a large crowd awaited them. “Argh!” fumed Hook. “We’re surrounded by landlubbers!” Baltazar got an idea. “Just follow me and act naturally,” he said and showed the motley crew the side entrance. “We’re new characters in training,” explained Baltazar, and everyone squeezed through. While his sidekick Taboo handed out colorful maps, the park’s mascot, Admiral Bork, greeted them, “Welcome to Treasure Isle!” The spectacular scenery dazzled the Corsairs. “Our booty could be anywhere,” mused Redlocks. Baltazar began, “I think we should go…” “This way!” interrupted Long John Silver who scrambled towards El Dorado Spring to pan for gold.