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Pirate Girl - Book Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published February 22nd 2013
pirate, pirate girl, pirates, books about pirates, female pirates, women pirates, children's books about pirates, kids' books about pirates, Cornelia Funke

When I was hugely pregnant with my first baby I stopped in to the local children's clothing store to look at baby clothes when a toy pirate caught my eye. I decided on impulse to buy it for the baby. The shop assistant commented "So you know it's a boy then?" When I replied that I was keeping the sex of the baby as a surprise for the birth she asked "Why are you buying a pirate then?"

Um...Because pirates are cool," I responded lamely. I was puzzled that someone wouldn't think little girls could enjoy pirate things as much as little boys. I know that as a child I was mad about pirates, dressing up in an eye patch and headscarf and waving around my homemade cutlass. Well, apparently it's not just me. German children's book author Cornelia Funke gets it.

pirate, toy pirate
Here is the pirate, only a little the worse for wear from all the chewing.

My daughter liked her pirate toy (though it has now passed to her younger brother) and she also enjoyed this book, which features pirates and a feisty young female protagonist. It's the story of a little girl named Molly who, like a seafaring Little Red Riding Hood, is off to visit her grandmother in her little boat when she is kidnapped by the fearsome Captain Firebeard.

Little does he know but Firebeard has bitten off more than he can chew. He plans to ransom Molly off to her parents but she won't tell him her name and address. He puts Molly to work on his pirate ship scrubbing decks, shining the pirate's boots etc. but she won't talk. Instead she secretly drops messages in bottles over the side every night until one of them reaches her mum, the terrifying pirate queen Barbarous Bertha. Bertha and her band of fierce female pirates board Firebeard's ship and force him and his crew to work for her scrubbing decks, shining boots and peeling potatoes.

It's a fun feminist story and it's always nice to see a tough mum in fiction. Barbarous Bertha is right up there with Sarah Connor (in the movie Terminator 2 and the spinoff television series The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Ellen Ripley (in the movie Aliens).

I really liked the illustrations, particularly the fact that the illustrator has not tried to make the women pirates look sexy. They are fierce looking and wear sensible clothing rather than the silly flimsy outfits women often end up with in fantasy and faux historical stories. They are also all shapes and sizes, from quite skinny to the big buxom pirate queen herself.

Pirate Girl is a great story to read to kids of either sex. I recommend it for ages 3 and up.

Rated: 9/10
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Why? Because pirates are not just for boys
Your Comment
A pirate book that's really great for girls is The Pink Pirate which is written by Brisbane author Michelle Worthington and illustrated by Karen Mounsey-Smith. It has a very empowering message. There's also some fun pirate stuff on their website which is here
by Cheryl Goodenough (score: 2|128) 2717 days ago
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