My niece and nephew both liked this book. It made it onto our reading list as part of my effort to fulfill my nephew's request that we read "a cool book." Pirates are always pretty cool, and Tough Boris did seem to live up to my nephew's standards.
There are two things about this book that really captured my attention. First of all, this is a story for young little kids, like my nephew, who think pirates are cool. Pirates are all tough, pirates are all massive, pirates are all scary, pirates are all scruffy. Little kids get that, and agree with it. That is a pirate as little kids know him. The word story was the one my nephew was responding to. Tough Boris is also a story for older kids, but *that* story is told through the pictures, and that story is more complex and more suspenseful than the story told in words. The story in the pictures is the one that my eight year old niece was tuned in to. Where the two stories, merge, though, is in the end, and that ending is appropriate to both the word story and the picture story. And that brings me to the second thing about Tough Boris that captured my attention.
Tough Boris is a story for adults with some life experience under their belts. The ending was heartbreaking and poignant, especially so for a children's book I thought. The message was simply stated, but cuts very deep, especially for a children's book. All pirates cry. And don't they? Even the roughest, toughest, baddest, most criminal among us sometimes cry. We all have hearts that are capable of great love, great evil, and thus, of great grief. And in the end, our "coolness" and our "toughness" doesn't matter. Only our humanity does.