Tag Archives: Pirates

Blackbeard’s Treasure – Iszi Lawrence


Bloomsbury Australia

May 2023

ImprintBloomsbury Education
RRP: $14.99

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve read a swashbuckling pirate adventure, and this was a good one to break that drought. It is adventure/historic novel based on facts about that period of time when pirates and privateers were roaming the waters, particularly in the newly colonised parts of the world. Many were dodging the law before they took to piracy but some were simply looking for an easy way to make a fortune. Others, more or less, ‘fell’ into piracy, either by being captured and forced to make choices (join the crew or die) or simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While there were many who were utterly corrupt and without scruples or conscience, others simply play-acted their ferocity and perpetuated their legendary fearsomeness, in order to make their lucrative trade easier. One such was Edward Teach, commonly known as Blackbeard and this adventure shows a different side of him, than that which has been often shown in books and media.

Abigail, eleven years old, lives with her father in the Caribbean. She really has no friends except for slave boy, Boubacar, whose mother Nanny Inna, looks after. Her mother is dead, but even if she were alive, she would be looked after by Nanny, as that’s how it worked in a ‘gentleman’s’ house. Her friendship with Boubacar, is not the easiest as a little girl dressed in muslin and in training to be ‘lady’ cannot associate with a slave boy or play vigorously but they really only have each other.

When the pirate Captain Vane arrives on their island, Abigail learns that her father is not only a cheat but a coward who abandoned his crew to save himself. Vane’s revenge is swift and Abigail and Boubacar are lucky to escape with their lives. Their escape leads them from one tricky situation to another and they are taken on board, Abigail posing as a boy, by Black Caesar, who is looking to restore his service with the notorious Blackbeard. Abigail’s shattered illusions about her father, lead her on an emotional rollercoaster, as she discovers that there can be ‘honour among thieves’.

There are near misses and high drama as she and Boubacar, learn not only new skills but more information about their connection than they had ever imagined. This is an exciting and fast-paced adventure for your middle grade readers and could lead to many wanting to explore more of the famous/infamous names mentioned such as Blackbeard, Black Caesar, Stede Bonnect and Anne Bonney, and places such Charles Town and St Christoper’s Island.

Geography, history, mapping, exploration of other piratical literature and characters would be a wonderful addition to a high-interest topic. Perhaps a class read aloud to coincide with Talk Like a Pirate Day and fundrising would be a fun way to share. Personally I would love to build a unit of work around this. I highly recommend it to you for your readers from around ten years upwards.

The StrangeWorlds Travel Agency : The Edge of the Ocean Book #2 – L. D. Lapinski


Hachette Australia

APR 13, 2021 | 9781510105959 | RRP $16.99

Now that Flick is officially a member of the StrangeWorlds Travel Agency, and with one exciting adventure already under her belt, in which she demonstrated some unexpected and remarkable powers, she and Jonathan Mercator are summoned to help another world. This time they are joined by Jonathan’s distant cousin, Avery, to whom Flick takes a strange instant dislike.

The urgent request for help has come from Queen Nyfe, who rules as a pirate chief over a motley crew of almost skeletal ships, in a world called The Break. This strange watery flat world is used to ships disappearing over the edge but in recent times, it’s become apparent that the world is breaking up and so the dangers have increased exponentially for Nyfe, her crew as well as the other mariners and the mer-people who also inhabit the once vast ocean.

Flick, Jonathan and Avery face more than just the pressure of saving The Break’s peoples. The various inhabitants are fighting amongst themselves and navigating the subterfuge on all sides is tricky indeed. Added to this is the shocking realisation that Jonathan’s lost father appears to be indeed dead and his grief renders him almost helpless in the struggle to work out how to transport ships, gigantic mer-people and pirates through a suitcase to a new and suitable world – even if they can actually find one that will fit the bill. And then there is the (to Flick’s mind, weird) way her feelings towards Avery and what seems to be a reciprocal feeling change as the quest unfolds.

Once again, this series delivers amazingly rich narrative with characters with whom readers will fall in love. I, for one, will eagerly anticipate the next instalment and your readers from around middle primary upwards will adore this new instalment.

Pirate Pug: The Dog who Rocked the Boat – Laura James/Eglantine Ceulemans



Bloompiratepugsbury Australia

February 2019

ISBN 9781408895948

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Series: The Adventures of Pug

RRP $12.99

This is the fourth in this hugely funny series for newly independent readers and just as hilarious as the earlier ones. Pug and his owner, Lady Miranda, seem to encounter all kinds of mischief and mishaps whenever and wherever they venture out. So a holiday at the seaside would be no different of course. Pug is none too fond of the water and quite frankly is absolutely terrified of the thought of getting on a boat but when the Lady Mayor’s chain is whisked away by a piratical parrot it seems there is no choice but to become a sea-going pug.

Local bully boys seem determined to beat Lady Miranda and her friends at rescuing the stolen treasure and even dare to scupper their ship but they don’t reckon on Pug’s resilience and his ability to turn the worse situation into an advantage.

Loads of laughs with some very entertaining illustrations abound and this is perfect fodder for readers from around six years upwards. I have a couple of the previous books tucked into my ‘relief teacher’ bag of supplies and they never fail to engage as a read-aloud for kids as old as ten.  However, I know a little girl who is an enthusiastic reader who might really like this particular one so it’s off to her it goes!

Treasure of the Golden Skull: Maudlin Towers #2 – Chris Priestley




December 2018

ISBN: 9781408873106
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP : $14.99 AU $16.99 NZ

Readers return to the wacky world of Maudlin Towers with Mildew and Sponge as they attempt to save their mouldering school from closure, due to its pecuniary troubles. Ever since the funds for the renovations disappeared in time (see the first book) there seems to be no solution to the threat of closure.   That is until Mildew and Sponge realise the possibility of the legendary Captain Greenbeard, fearsome pirate (and as it turns out, Mildew’s ancestor) having buried his treasure nearby.

It is rather unfortunate however that it’s not just the bumbling pair hunting treasure. Due to Kenningworth’s big mouth and newspaper coverage the school is taken over by pirates from Greenbeard’s crew who are also after the treasure.

As usual despite their ineptitude Mildew and Sponge manage by dint of accident rather than brilliance to save the day. These are hilarious stories which are sort of a mash up of Molesworth and comic horror which many readers will find a really enjoyable read.

Recommended for able readers (given the word play throughout etc) from around ten years upwards.

We Are Pirates – Daniel Handler



Allen & Unwin

RRP: $29.99

Paperback – 352 pages

ISBN: 9781408821459
Australian Pub.: February 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Imprint: Bloomsbury
Subject: Fiction

Lemony Snicket, this is not!  While you may well be used to the dark humour of the LS children’s novels, this newest novel from the same author, alternatively known as Daniel Handler, is a disturbing mix of fantastical realism most definitely only suited to mature readers.

Against a backdrop of contemporary San Francisco, Handler presents an interesting take on modern family dynamics as he introduces the Needles family – Phil, struggling radio producer with a condo he can’t afford and a family to which he can’t relate; Marina, bored unfulfilled wife whose painting is not enough to sustain either her married life or her relationship with her daughter; Gwen, fourteen and troubled, a shoplifter, ex-swimmer, rebel with a desire for romantic adventure.

When Gwen assumes an alter ego as Octavia and swash buckles her way through a swathe of shoplifting at her neighbourhood drugstore and is busted bigtime, she is forced to spend ‘punishment’ time as companion to Errol, an Alzheimer’s patient who imagines himself as a retired Navy veteran, who revels in piratical fiction and non-fiction.

Gwen and her newly acquired friend Amber, a strangely fierce and feisty being, take to the pirate notion with fervour and begin to plot to escape the humdrum existence of their teenaged lives and useless parents with adventure on the high seas.  It is a little difficult to imagine two 14 year olds enthusiastically embracing such offerings as Captain Blood but it is the hook for the rest of the plot.

They ‘spring’ Errol from his retirement home and almost accidentally acquire a couple of other crew members and hey ho! It’s off to sea they go – in San Francisco bay, where they create not just mayhem but murder with a very nasty edge to it.

While this is all rolling along, Phil Needles is beset with complications around a radio project he is developing, his not-very-successful production company and his attractive new assistant.  Summoned home from a conference, where he is meant to be pitching his newest idea, by news that his daughter has gone missing, Phil’s professional worries are eclipsed by Gwen’s disappearance and his wife’s manic reaction.

With an ending that is bleak and, frankly, creepy this is not a novel for the faint-hearted.  I found the plot somewhat uneven and the characters are at times more caricatures but it was nonetheless intriguing and often very humorous, albeit also somewhat repugnant at times.

With a dose of very explicit language and sexual references, this would only be suitable for your Senior students if you chose to add it to your library collection (the publisher’s comment is that it is an adult novel). On a personal note, you may like to try it out yourself, to see another side to Lemony Snicket.

Listen to Daniel Handler talk about the book here.

The Beastly Pirates – John Kelly



Allen & Unwin Australia

Bloomsbury Children Imprint

February 2015

ISBN 9781408849859

RRP $14.99

Shiver the timbers of your younger readers with this wonderfully witty and rollicking rhyming story about the scurviest pirates you’ve ever encountered!

This just begs to be read aloud with lots and lots of vocal expression. It is chockful of onomatopoeia and alliteration which make it even more marvellous for a story time experience that is thrilling and just scary enough to be exciting. The use of interesting variations in font size along with the use of vocabulary which will extend the reader’s repertoire add appeal to an independent reading as well, so this book has it covered from both angles.

The Beastly Captain Snapper

Is most hideous and vile.

A one-eyed, cutlass-toting

Pirate-eating crocodile.


With a body hard and muscled,

Covered head to toe in scales,

His colossal snout is four feet long,

And full of teeth like nails.

John Kelly’s illustrations are bold and detailed providing a visual feast to accompany the text. Humour abounds such as when the nasty pirates are eating crumpets and cupcakes contrasting with the next spread when the next pirate is served up with spaghetti and ragu, after an altercation with the Kraken.

This will make a terrific addition to any picture book collection – whether home or school. It certainly was well received here!

Highly recommended for young readers from about 6/7 years up.