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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Books for Young Pirates

  Cover Art: Pirates
Pirates Magnified
By David Long
Illustrated by Harry Bloom

Wide Eyed Editions, 2017, ISBN 978-1-78603-028-3, US $22.99 / CAN $27.99 / UK £14.99


Think you know about pirates? Open this book and find out. And don’t forget to bring along the magnifying glass that you’ll find inside the front cover, because I guarantee you’ll need it to explore every tiny detail of the pages that discuss pirates and pirate life.

The publisher “believes that books should encourage curiosity” and inspire readers to discover, and Pirates Magnified surpasses this goal. I’ve read a lot of books about pirates, but even I met a new pirate or two as I studied each page. Just don’t expect this to be your typical picture book when you open the front cover. There are illustrations galore, but you will have to come back time and again to absorb all the information found inside.

So what will you find within these pages? There is information about when pirates lived, the merchants whose ships carried the “treasure” pirates wanted, how pirate ships navigated the seven seas, and what life was like when a pirate went hunting. Next, you’ll meet eleven pirates from different countries, some of whom aren’t always found in other books about piracy.

Henry Avery
Black Bart
Anne Bonny and Mary Read
Black Caesar
William Kidd
Amaro Pargo
Olivier Levasseur
Stenka Razin
James Ford

After learning who these men and women were and what made them stand out from other pirates, you’ll find out about storms at sea and treasure hunters.

All these pages feature a brief summary of the topic, 10 Things to Spot, and a double-page “eye-boggling” illustration populated by many, many pirates and townspeople both on land and at sea. The best way to “read” this book is provided on the page facing the Table of Contents: study the action on the page, read the text, and then try to find the ten objects with the magnifying glass. You may not find them all – I certainly did not – and it may require more than one visit to find all ten. But this book isn’t made to read in a day. It’s meant to be savored and explored, just like a treasure hunt.

There’s also a Rogues Gallery of twenty-one other pirates, including the youngest known pirate. Two pages entitled “Can You Find?” is meant to test your memory. Do you recall seeing the object while you studied the pages and, if so, which page was it on? (If you don’t remember, you’re invited to go back through the book to see if you can find it.) Answers are provided for the pages with the “10 Things to Spot” – and yes, I had to look up a few, including one particularly scurvy shark. To round out your discovery of pirates, the book ends with six rules you need to know to talk like a pirate and three columns of pirate slang. There is also a glossary of words used in the text and general ship terms.

Pirates Magnified is a great introduction to pirates that engages the reader and allows him or her to be an active participant in the learning experience. So much action is crammed onto each double-page spread, it’s mindboggling. A few pirates are depicted in various stages of undress, although in a tasteful fashion that doesn’t include graphic details. For the most part, the artwork is realistically portrayed; at least one cutaway of a ship is more on a par with a Royal Navy vessel or one that the East India Company might sail to allow readers to have a better sense of what ships were like and to cram more pirates in them. Also, larger ships are more interesting and let you see more details than the smaller ones pirates really used.

My only complaint pertains to the choice of ink and typeface used in the text. Both are fine on pages where the background is a light color. But on pages depicting night, black on dark blue causes a lot of eye strain, even if read through a magnifying glass. My eyesight might not be as keen as it once was, but the pages are so busy why make young eyes strain even harder to read what’s printed on them?

What I particularly enjoyed was the inclusion of pirates and other historical information that isn’t often found in other books on the subject. One example of this is “Merchants on the High Seas,” which provides many illustrations of items traders carried from one port to another and is more realistic of the treasure pirates of the golden age actually captured. Another example is the inclusion of a wide range of pirates, not so much from a historical perspective, but rather from a gender, age, and ethnic one. Pirates Magnified is a good sampling of the pirate world and a real brain tester. The book’s sturdy construction insures that it will hold up to frequent usage and close perusal. It’s sure to please inquisitive young pirates and provides a great way for parents and children to learn about pirates together.

Inside Pages of
                  Pirates Magnified (Source: Wide Eyed Editions, used
                  with permission)
Interior pages from Pirates Magnified
[Source: Wide Eyed Editions, used with permission]

Meet the author

Interview with author & illustrator on International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Book Review Copyright ©2017 Cindy Vallar

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