Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults
Pirates were men, right? Yes, but women were too, and Sea Queens introduces young pirates to thirteen of them from Artemisia of Persia (500-480 BC) to Madame Ching of China (early 19th century). Other female rogues in this collection are Queen Teuta, Alfhild, Jeanne de Belleville, Grania O’Malley, Lady Killigrew, Pretty Peg, Charlotte de Berry, Anne Bonney, Mary Read, Rachel Wall, and Mary Anne Talbot. At the end of the book is a “Roundup” section that lists some additional pirates about whom little is known, and Yolen readily admits that historians aren’t always certain whether or not some of the women in this book actually lived. For example, Gunpowder Gertie is a fictional pirate. There are three pages of book titles and three websites listed in the bibliography, and there is an extensive index.
Sea Queens is one of the most complete and interesting accounts of female pirates written for older children and young adults. Each chapter features sidebars that provide additional information that help round out the presentation. Pratt’s black-and-white illustrations catch the reader’s eyes and provide us with an idea of what these notorious individuals may have looked like, although I didn’t understand the drawing of the Illyrian boat. The font size is large and there’s a lot of blank space on the pages to make the presentation pleasing. The starkness seems to emphasize that these women were not heroines, but criminals and they shouldn’t be glamorized. Sea Queens is a worthy addition to any pirate library. That it emphasizes women, whom history has often given short shrift to, makes it even more of a treasure, especially since Yolen showcases many pirates without overemphasizing Bonney and Read, the two female pirates most people know.
Review copyrighted © 2008 Cindy Vallar
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