Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults
Hannah Pritchard: Pirate of the Revolution
By Bonnie Pryor
Enslow Publishers, 2008, 978-0-7660-2851-7, £6.99, US $27.93
With Britain and America at war, living on the outskirts of civilization is risky. Hannah Pritchard’s father, however, ignores neighbors’ suggestions to move the family to a safer location. Then British soldiers and Iroquois warriors attack the homestead. Only Hannah survives because she was out picking berries and sought shelter in a cave. Mr. Van der Beck finds her and arranges for Hannah to go to Boston to live with her grandmother, but once there, Hannah learns her grandmother, a devout Tory, left with the British.
Although Mr. Van der Beck gives her the name of his sister, who owns a tavern in Portsmouth, should Hannah need someone, she has no money to purchase a ticket for the stagecoach. She decides to sell her mother’s silver candlesticks to their maker, Paul Revere. At first she’s accused of being a thief, but the silversmith soon sorts everything out and arranges for her transportation.
Lottie and Madeline welcome Hannah with open arms. The work is hard, but she soon finds herself making new friends. In her off hours, Hannah likes to wander the wharves and watch the arriving and departing seamen and ships. Unable to resist the call of the sea and wanting revenge for the murder of her family, Hannah dons her brother’s clothes – which provided her a means of safer passage from her farm to Boston – and signs aboard as the cabin boy and cook’s helper of the Sea Hawk, a privateer commanded by Captain Jones.
As Jack Pritchard, Hannah keeps her true identity a secret as she learns the ropes. She befriends another new seaman named Daniel, but she has an enemy aboard. Larson holds a grudge against her because she got the job his nephew should have. Making life miserable for Hannah is his way of getting even, but it also gets her into trouble. If that’s not enough of a problem, they are at sea for one purpose – capturing enemy ships – and sooner or later she must come face to face with the enemy. Will she get the revenge she seeks, or will she get captured and face charges of piracy?
This fourteen chapter book is written for children, particularly girls, in grades three through six and is part of Enslow’s Historical Fiction Adventure series. Since it is based on real historical events, each book ends with “The Real History behind the Story,” a recommended reading list of other pirate stories – fictional and true – and websites to visit for additional information on the American Revolution and privateers.Pryor vividly portrays the reality of war as seen through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Hannah, who must make her own way in the world. Her adventures allow young readers to safely visit colonial New England while venturing alongside Hannah as she begins a new life fraught with adventure and danger. Fans of the Jacky Faber series will enjoy Hannah Pritchard: Pirate of the Revolution as will readers who want a young heroine who takes risks and stands up for herself.
Get the Free Educator’s Guide
copyrighted © 2008 Cindy Vallar
Return to top
The second adventure in the Hannah Pritchard series finds our heroine, disguised as her brother Jack, climbing aloft the Majestic, a captured British ship. A privateer for the Americans, Hannah soon returns to the Sea Hawk with her friends, Daniel, Dobbs, and Ratso. When Hannah and her mates find themselves surrounded by fog off the Carolina coast, they discover they not only have to fear the dangerous coastline, but also the British warship hunting them.
The drunken first mate engages the warship, rather than pretending to be escorting a captured American prize. Outgunned and outmanned, the two vessels can’t escape. Captain Nelson sends Hannah and her friends ashore with the gold, which they bury. But their plans to escape are soon ended, and they find themselves prisoners of war. Since the British don’t recognize privateers as legitimate prisoners, they are considered pirates. Rather than hang, they are imprisoned in an overcrowded warehouse. Each day, the cruel warden comes and removes several men who never come back.
Before long, Hannah and her friends are the ones who are summoned. They aren’t hanged. Rather they must row themselves out to the Jersey, a former ship turned into a prison hulk where smallpox and other diseases run rampant and cruel guards take out their anger on the prisoners. Will Hannah and her friends survive?
For those who want to know more about the history behind this story, there are several pages at the end devoted to food at sea, wartime prisons, prison ships, and other historical events incorporated into Hannah’s tale. There is also a list of fiction and nonfiction books to read and websites to visit to learn more about sailors and women during the American Revolution.
This action-packed story presents an often overlooked phase of the American Revolution – privateers and prisoners of war. The gritty reality of life aboard a prison hulk, particularly one with the worst reputation during the war, is vividly portrayed and readers will find themselves holding their breath to see what happens next. Pryor doesn’t romanticize war and how it affects people, and by portraying young characters amidst the action, readers come to learn that war involves people of all ages, not just adults.
Captain Hannah Pritchard: The Hunt for Pirate Gold
By Bonnie Pryor
Enslow Publishers, 2011, ISBN 978-0-7660-3817-2, US $27.93, CAN $27.57, £17.06
After escaping from a British prison ship and evading a sea monster, Hannah Pritchard, Captain Dobbs, the cook, and Daniel arrive in their home port of Portsmouth in 1780 aboard a captured schooner. Also docked in the New Hampshire port is the privateer painted to resemble a sea monster.
The former prisoners rest and recuperate among friends while Dobbs oversees the hiring of new crewmen and arranging for cargo so they can put out to sea again. Unable to find merchants willing to risk sending their wares by sea during the war, Dobbs goes to Philadelphia to obtain a commission from the navy. During his absence, Daniel spends time with the men from the sea monster privateer. Tales of their exploits amaze him, but Hannah isn’t convinced. Something doesn’t quite add up, and she’s relieved when Dobbs refuses to partner with the other privateer captain upon his return from Philadelphia.
Once the schooner sets sail again, Dobbs reveals their secret mission. Only then can they retrieve the chest of gold they buried on an island in the Outer Banks before the British captured them. But the sea monster’s captain has heard whispers of that gold and has no intention of giving up such a prize. If he and his crew succeed in stealing the gold, Hannah fears the worst. Will she and her mates outfox their new enemy, evade the British, succeed in their mission, and retrieve the gold?
This is the final book in the Hannah Pritchard series for young readers, but it’s filled with exciting adventures and danger lurks around every corner. Pryor centers part of her tale on the French assistance that helped the Americans win the Revolution. She ably demonstrates that not all privateers were as interested in defeating the enemy as they were in amassing wealth and that there was a fine line between privateering and piracy. Although Hannah’s elevation to captain is a poignant ending to the series, it also demonstrates the value of friendship, loyalty, and honor. The book concludes with a discussion of the real history behind the story and a list of resources readers can consult for additional information.
Review Copyrighted ©2011 Cindy Vallar
Return to top
Home Pirate Articles Pirate Links
Book Reviews Thistles & Pirates
Click on the Cannon to Contact Me