The Pirate's Tale – By Janet Aitchinson and Jill Macdonald.
“One day the pirates got better and sailed away to the mountain and saw a shark and caught it and the pirates' new cat said “Meow meow.” The pirates said “Be quiet new cat.”
I discovered this book hiding in the shed a couple of years ago. No one in my family can discern it's origins, it appeared one day from unknown lands and now I love this book. Maybe a little too much. First time house guests? Here's the kitchen, here's our lounge and LOOK AT THIS PIRATE BOOK!
The story is magnificent, nonsensical in a lot of places, but after the first page reveals; “This story was written by Janet when she was five-and-a-half years old...It contains all the ingredients that one little girl decided she would like to have in her ideal picture book.” you can start to understand why!
And my goodness what a lot of things that little girl thought a pirate book needed; a volcano, a dwarf army, sharks, a tragic death for the cat, magic cheese, mumps, magic gold, and a second tragic death for the second cat. The story moves incredibly quickly through a succession of extraordinary situations. Accompanied by brightly coloured full page pictures (which are all hilarious) this book is certain to capture your, and the children's imagination.
It's a wonderful starting point for the students to go off and write their own pirate adventures. It puts the pirates in unusual situations that you wouldn't normally think of, showing children how fantastical a story can become. It shows that if a five-and-a-half-year-old can write something so wonderful, they certainly can too!
The only criticism is that it is written in the way a five year old would tell the story. As you can see from the exert above, it's missing a lot of punctuation, and the story moves from scene to scene without any consistency. It makes so little sense in places that it becomes absurd. However, I feel this adds to the story's charm, it gives it a quick and exciting pace and makes it a really fun read.
It can lead to a good discussion on morals, we all know that pirate's don't have the most upstanding of characters, and this story is no exception with a lot of pillaging and throwing the king of dwarfs to a whale (who then throws him up again, so the pirates throw him down again until a shark comes along to eat him up.). They're not all bad though, they do care for their cats and wives, and there's even one scene where they sneak into a house and clean it! So you can have a good talk about what the pirates did that was good, and what they did that was not so good... and get the children to start thinking about the way they treat others and how they'd like to be treated.
All in all, this is a marvelous book and I would highly recommend it for reading with younger children.