Age Range: 3 to 7
The Night Pirates has a crew of girl pirates who ingeniously outsmart a crew of grown up pirates and steal their treasure. This swashbuckling adventure is fun to read and overturns traditionally stereotypical pirate roles. It is a celebration of girl power (with help from a little lad, Tom).
The Story: Tom is in bed when a crew of girl pirates steal the front of his house. They invite him to join them on their ship (which they disguise with his house) and sail to an island where they surprise Captain Patch and his pirate crew. The pirate crew are scared by the ambush and Tom and the girls steal their treasure before sailing home. A tired Tom goes back to bed and the house is returned to normal (almost!).
The pirate girls are feisty, brave and tough and are happy to include Tom in their adventure. In contrast Captain Patch’s crew are lazy and cowardly, they are scared by Tom and his new friends. Disguising the pirate ship as a house lulls the pirates into a false sense of security and we love the picture of the pirates hiding in the trees. Captain Patch’s worst pirate curse amuses us but it doesn’t scare Tom and the girls, they’re not afraid of Captain Patch telling his mum if they don’t give the treasure back!
I love the layout of The Night Pirates, no two spreads are the same which adds to the interest. The illustrations have so many details and are very atmospheric in places. The girl pirates’ energy bursts off the page in contrast with the grown up pirates slobbery. The grown up pirates have some wonderfully startled, surprised and scared expressions and my daughter always comments on the flames coming out of Captain Patch’s mouth when he is angry.
The first page sets the scene with some fantastic language and an atmospheric picture. It’s impossible not to turn the first page to find out who or what is creeping through the darkness and in the first three spreads Tom is the only splash of colour in the dark pictures. Different font styles and sizes, rhymes and repetition all contribute to the pace of the story and hold the reader’s interest. It’s a fun story to read and provides scope for pirate voices!
The Night Pirates would be a fun book to use with older key stage one / younger key stage two children in the literacy classroom. Peter Harris uses a range of verbs and adjectives to move the story along and a lesson on similes could be introduced using the first spread.
This is a great story, we love the feisty, female protagonists!
Author: Peter Harris / Illustrator: Deborah Allwright