Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults
Review Copyrighted © 2020 Cindy VallarAn alternate subtitle of this book is “Incredible facts, maps & true stories about life on the high seas,” and in this claim the volume, geared toward older children who can read and comprehend this complicated subject, ably succeeds. It is stuffed full of pirate facts and lore; it even includes a glossary and index. Readers understand from the opening pages that this is not just another dull recitation of facts. It begins with a unique table of contents – one that is predominantly colorful pictures with some text to clarify what each chapter is about.
The first topic explored is “Who Would Want to be a Pirate?” After this short introductory question, there follows a question-answer format with a boxed highlight. This arrangement is followed throughout subsequent pages, which cover each topic in two-page spreads of color illustrations, blank spaces, and succinct paragraphs pertaining to the explored subject.
Maps introduce each region were piracy blossomed. The highlights denote such things as treasure, attacks, battles, haunts, ghost towns, and shipwrecks. The first map focuses on the Mediterranean, since this is the region where pirates first began their attacks. Within the topic readers learn about Barbary corsairs, life as a galley slave, and the switch from privateering to piracy. Subsequent regions explore the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and Asian waters. Each includes a special focus page on a specific pirate: the Barbarossa brothers, Blackbeard, Mary Read and Anne Bonny, Bartholomew Roberts, and Zheng Shi. The subject matter for each region essentially covers who, what, when, where, and how. Also discussed are universal topics such as ships, punishments, and life at sea and stopovers on land.
American readers might not understand one of the subheadings under “Who Would Want to be a Pirate?” “Pirate Porkies” is British slang for fat lies (or myths) about pirates, such as walking the plank. The only drawbacks in an otherwise entertaining, but realistic, romp through history are the small font size and dark colored words on dark pictures. This will be a problem for children fascinated by pirates, but who have sight challenges. More than once I resorted to using a magnifying glass with a light to read the text, and I have good eyesight. There are a few questionable statements, but only a true pirate aficionado would recognize these missteps and they do not detract from the overall introductory nature to pirate history.
Reminiscent of a scavenger hunt, Pirates is a fun-filled exploration of pirates throughout history in sixty-four pages. Yet neither the author nor the illustrator portrays pirates as romantic heroes. Perhaps one of this book’s strengths is that it introduces pirates often excluded from or glossed over in children books. One example is the Wokou. Readers young and old will find interesting tidbits that cover the whole of piracy from the Mediterranean to the Far East.
*One additional note: This is the paperback edition of Pirates: Dead Men’s Tales (2018), so those who have read that book won’t find anything new in this volume.
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