Posts Tagged ‘Pirates’

Pirate Stew by Neil Gaiman, illus. Chris Riddell. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2020.

October 31, 2020 Comments off

Multi cultural mum and dad are going out and hire Long John McRon as baby sitter to look after their son and daughter. No sooner are they out the door than a whole pirate crew and followers come in to help.

Pirate stew is on the menu and so are songs like Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest. Pirate Stew, Pirate Stew! Pirate Stew for me and you” Yummy. But what goes into it? Read this inviting picture book for juniors and find out.

The rhyming text talks of “locks from Davy Jones’s Locker” “mermaids tears” limes to ward off scurvy” and other palatables. They sail on a ship through the night sky until mum and dad come home and the pirate stew is still on the table. What could possibly happen?

Chris Riddell’s illustrations are superb and tell another version of the story. Very imaginative stuff. Aaah Jim lad!

How to be a Pirate by Isaac Fitzgerald, illus. Brigette Barrager.

April 19, 2020 Comments off

pirateHow to be a Pirate by Isaac Fitzgerald, illus. Brigette Barrager. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2020.

CeCe wants to be a pirate with the boys in their tree hut but they tell her no “girls can’t be pirates”.

So ceCe and her dog got to someone who knows how to be a pirate – Granddad. He has a tattoo and has been to sea. he tells CeCe the secret of being a pirate and lets the bemused boys know what it means to be a pirate.

Good values, good humour, lovely story. Illustrations are superb. Loved the dog. Good for juniors, reading aloud and developing reading skills. Every page is used even the back and front covers, I love it when that happens.

Maudlin Towers2. Treasure of the Golden Skull by Chris Priestley

December 6, 2018 Comments off

golden skullMaudlin Towers2. Treasure of the Golden Skull by Chris Priestley. Pub. Bloomsbury Childrens Books, 2018.

Cor blimey O’Reilly this is good. Quality writing, crazy plot, even crazier characters, full of humour and wit and so easy to read.

Mildew and Sponge are friends at a run down private school called Maudlin Towers. The opening chapter has one of the spires falling through the headmasters office. Both teachers and pupils are full of gloom about going to the school but feel they have nowhere better to go.

Then the School Board refuse to fund the repairs and the school is rumoured to be closing. How can this change?

Well it is discovered that the founding fathers of the school were pirates led by Greenbeard, captain of the Golden Skull, and the captain’s treasure could be hidden somewhere in the school and environs.

Firstly the school Board, who look and act like pirates, remove all the teaching staff and a new boy called Newboy joins the school. Sponge is walloped on the head and keeps seeing a parrot around the school grounds but his friend Mildew is skeptical “I had a cousin once who thought he could see Charles Dickens. It turned out to be a hatstand. He’s an MP now so be warned.”

The characters are weird. Miss Bronteen pines for a lost love on the moors and Kenningworth is a total rotter out of the top drawer. Then there is Miss Nevermiss!

Superb humour and excellent pen and ink sketches of the characters make this an excellent read for even the most reluctant boy reader. I was fascinated from go to woe and there is a lot of woe.

Intermediate and junior secondary.

Brotherband Bk 7: The Caldera by John Flanagan.

November 17, 2017 Comments off

calderaBrotherband Bk 7: The Caldera by John Flanagan. Pub.Penguin Random House, 2017.

Hal, Stig, Ulf and Wulf, Lydia, Thorn and dog Kloof are a Brotherband in the Skandian culture and they sail a technically superior viking ship, the Heron, due to a movable boom sail rig invented by Hal the Skirl or captain. They take on dangerous missions all over the Skandian world and such is their team work and skill that they are always successful.

When Stig’s father Olaf turns up after deserting his family and crew 20 years previously a new adventure begins. Olaf has work as chief palace guard for the Empress of Constanta a city identical to the modern day Istanbul. The Empress is Regent to her young son who has been kidnapped by to true baddy with the name Myrgos.

Myrgos has a fortress in a caldera of a volcano which has opened to the sea and his fortress is at the top of a cliff overlooking the caldera.

Hal and his crew are asked by Olaf to rescue the Empress’s son and clear his name at the same time. But all is not as it seems. Read it and enjoy the action, it is outstanding and compulsive reading.

Told in the same easy style of previous Brotherband books and you do not have to have read the earlier novels to know what is going on. John Flanagan neatly brings you up to scratch in Part 1 of the novel and then you are straight into the action against the villain Myrgos and the river pirates of the Dan river.

Lots of sailing talk and sea and river battles that are brilliantly described. I was disturbed when Lydia the only female member of Hal’s crew was wounded in the first battle of the novel but I knew she would get up again.

For intermediate and junior secondary readers but I am sure older and younger confident readers will easily cope with this novel. Leadership is a constant theme of this series, what does it take to be a leader?

Reluctant boys – this is for you.

The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson.

June 22, 2017 Comments off

ice piratesThe Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson. Imprint Gecko Press, 2017.

Pirate Whitehead is the coldest, most evil man on the Ice Sea. He wears his hair in a bun and treats children like animals by capturing them and making them work in his diamond mine on a secret island somewhere in the Ice Sea.

What is worse is that he has stolen Miki, the sister of the heroine of this story, Siri who sets out to rescue Miki, unarmed but with a determination that could beat the All Blacks.

On her journey across the Ice Sea which freezes over in winter and crushes ships caught in the ice, Siri meets some amazing people and creatures that all assist her in her mission to free Miki. Some of the creatures are bogle birds, sea parrots which are very tasty when cooked with snowberries, and a baby merman.

The smell of fish is ever present in the written text and the coldness seeps through so make sure you read it in front of the fire.

Siri is a brilliant character, good and sincere to the core and brave and resilient beyond belief. Love does that to people and Siri loves her sister Miki. But will Siri find Miki alive and well, and defeat Whitehead? Read it and find out.

This is a translation of a highly acclaimed Swedish writer which lacks nothing in power and the illustrations by David Barrow enhance the mood and illustrate the plot.

This novel really is a saga and cries out to be read aloud to children of ages 8-12 years but older kids will love it too. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

The Bold Ship Phenomenal by Sarah Johnson

June 30, 2016 Comments off

PhenomenalThe Bold Ship Phenomenal by Sarah Johnson. Pub. Flat Bed Press, 2016.

After a tentative start this novel for middle school children develops an original idea into a rollicking double plot story involving pirates, smuggling of endangered species and a pig.

Malachi is 11 years old and he and his father miss his mother who has died. Malachi’s mother always encouraged him to be adventurous and inquisitive and she gave him a magnifying glass and says look for me after I have gone.

Malachi finds a ship in a bottle which has a life of it’s own which parallels the adventure that is to happen in his own life. He becomes aware of a dodgy deal that is going to take place in Waipoua Forest where protestors are trying to stop a road going through which threatens many species.

Read the rest and find out the adventure that malachi gets into and how a piglet helps and hinders his progress. All the strings to the plot are tied up nicely at the end but will Malachi find evidence of his mother in the action?

Short chapters and a large font plus a rapidly changing plot make this novel an excellent read-a-loud for primary students.

The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, illus Ross Collins.

May 20, 2015 Comments off

mabel jonesThe Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, illus Ross Collins. Pub.Puffin 2015.

If you pick your nose and eat it, don’t get caught. Mabel Jones gets spotted by Idyryss Ebenezer Split the crusty captain of the pirate ship The Feroshus Maggot and is bagged by Omynus Hussh and taken to the weird world of the Seven Seas.

The other pirates are not happy about having a girl on board but when the Captain discovers she can read  he sets her a task of finding all the pieces of a broken X which he tells her is the keyhole to getting her back home. But what else is it for?

Mabel says fine and sets about tracking down some weird characters and creatures who have to be relieved of their bit of X. This is not an easy task and requires daring and ingenuity from the feisty Mabel in the strange world.

There is a map in the front and the plot is told with a variety of fonts and the excellent illustrations of Ross Collins.

Good easy reading from a new author for reluctant readers and lots of cleverness with the tale of Moby Dick and other classics.

For primary and intermediate readers.

The Pirates and the Nightmaker by James Norcliffe.

February 4, 2015 Comments off

pirates nightmakerThe Pirates and the Nightmaker by James Norcliffe. Pub. Longacre, 2015.

After I had read James Norcliffe’s two novels about the Loblolly Boy I wondered how the Loblolly Boy had come into existence, who was the mysterious Captain Bass and what was the significance of the astrolabe.

If you are of the same mind read this latest novel and find out. Even if you are not this novel is quite fascinating and once you start it will draw you in and keep you hanging on till the story is told.

It is set in the Caribbean on the Spanish Main at a time when everybody was a pirate of some description whether you worked for the British, the Spanish or the French. Treasure was what mattered but in this case the astrolabe is the prize.

The War of Jenkins Ear between Spanish and British has occurred and the Spanish have beaten the British from their stronghold in the port fortress of Cartagena. I have been to Cartagena and you still have to watch your back. It was also the setting for the crocodile scene in the film Romancing the Stone.

Just about every character is a villain and the only innocents are the Loblolly Boy and the daughter of a female pirate captain, Sophie. Sophie can see the Loblolly Boy and only sensitives can. A ruthless sorceror from the netherworld called Mr Wicker has turned a young boy into the Loblolly Boy for his own ends. The Loblolly Boy is invisible to most mortals, is unaffected by weather, never eats and can fly.

The aim of Wicker is to reclaim the astrolabe from Cartagena because the astrolabe has the power to turn night into day and day into night while this occurs great mischief can be done.

The real star of this book is the storytelling power of James Norcliffe and the language that he uses. Norcliffe is not only a teller of great stories he is a wordsmith. His imagery, dialogue and description is outstanding.

Read it yourself. The ending is a big surprise.

For good primary and intermediate readers and secondary readers will go for it too.


The Freedom Merchants by Sherryl Jordan.

June 7, 2013 Comments off

freedom merchantsThe Freedom Merchants by Sherryl Jordan. Pub. Scholastic, 2013.

It is 1615 and twenty five years prior to this,  the Irish seaside village of Ballykilmara was raided by Barbary pirates from North Africa who carried off men and women to be slaves. The Villagers never forgot.

During a storm the warning bell is rung announcing either a ship wreck or pirates and the menfolk run armed to the beach. It is both. As the pirates come ashore the locals slaughter them where they stand. God has avenged.

One pirate, Iskander, survives and is nursed back to health by 15 year old Liam and his family and the villagers remembering the slaughter show clemency. But the priest and the English land owners are not so lenient.

A similar pirate raid some months later carries off Liam’s  brother and many other villagers to be sold as slaves in the markets of Algiers.

Liam and the Monks of the local monastary mount a rescue mission to buy the hostages from the pirates with gold and set sail for North Africa in a leather boat. What results is a portrait of the cruel and brutal  slave trade and two religions that have been going hammer and tongs for centuries and continue to do so until the present day.

Brilliantly told and described by Sherryl Jordan who has researched this topic thoroughly. Action packed and at times gruesome, as Jordan relates the plight of the slaves, but also uplifting as we read of the selfless courage of the monks who gave all for their fellow men. From hopelessness and despair comes miracles. Read it for yourself.

Wide appeal from Intermediate to young adult. The writing will blow you away.

Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion

June 26, 2012 Comments off

Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion. Pub. Jonathon Cape, 2012.

They say never mess with the Classics but I am glad that former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has done so.

In the lofty style that characterises so many of the Classics, Motion has returned us to Treasure Island 50 years after the original adventure and written through the eyes of Jim Hawkin’s son, also named Jim Hawkins.

After being tracked down by Natty, daughter of Long John Silver, young Jim Hawkins, borrows the old map from the chest once owned by Billy Bones, now owned by his father.

At the behest of very old and blind, Long John Silver, who finances the operation, Jim lad and Natty disguised as a boy, set sail on the Nightingale for Treasure Island to retrieve the silver left behind.

They arrive at Treasure Island to find that a slave ship has been wrecked and that the pirates left behind in the original story have formed a tyrannical community based at the old Stockade.

Pieces of eight, shiver me timbers, fifteen men on a dead mans chest yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. Ah Jim Lad. Good stuff.

Beautifully written and told as you would expect of such a quality writer as Andrew Motion who has also structured the novel in the same way as the original.

This novel has wide appeal from Intermediate through to young adult. If you love the classics then you will adore the style of this novel all the way to the stunning ending.