Captain Beastlie’s Pirate Party: Lucy Coats & Chris Mould (Nosy Crow, 2014)
Pirates and birthdays, what’s not to love? And from the talented team of Lucy Coats, Chris Mould and Nosy Crow? Well, that’s kids and adults happy then. I’m not sure I’ve met a child that doesn’t like pirates. If you think about it, it’s an odd theme for children as I think real-life pirates weren’t actually all that nice. But then children like enormous prehistoric beasties that ripped their prey apart, and creepy crawly hairy things, and fairies, so their tastes are a bit on the bloodthirsty side.
Captain Beastlie is the most disgusting pirate you’ll ever have the misfortune to meet. He sleeps with rotten cabbages, he eats things that come out of his nose and ear, he… Excuse me while I shudder a little here. If your children like the grossness of Morris the Mankiest Monster (Giles Andreae & Sarah McIntyre) then they’ll love Captain Beastlie. However, he lives on a squeaky clean ship, with the neatest of shipmates, so he must have some redeeming features as they seem to like him.
The story itself is full of delights. We count down with Captain Beastlie from Monday to Saturday, surreptitiously sneaking in days of the week and counting down from five reinforcement into the text, as he does a selection of really disgusting things and his crew carry on in the background.
The background, oh the background! Picture books come in all types, and minimal pictures can work exceptionally well, but I do love a book where the illustrations give you something new on many repeat readings, and small children do love their repeat readings… There is of course part of the story happening in the illustrations – the crew collecting wrapping paper, cards, and other birthday treats without the oblivious captain noticing. But there’s also the wonderful detail in the pirate ship, and little touches like 5 rotten cabbages on Monday but look out for them on the other days of the week and count how many there are each day. Wonderful!
I won’t spoil the surprise of what happens to the captain on his birthday, but I will mention the wonderful skull shaped birthday cake. Mmmm… Oh, and the song the pirates sing to the Captain will have polite children gasping (and giggling!) From an inclusivity viewpoint, there are no clichéd peg legs or eyepatches for these pirates, plus the cabin ‘boy’ is a girl (with no pink and not wearing a dress, but she’s still a girl…)
This is a star of a book, expertly written and stunningly illustrated. Nosy Crow have published Hardback and Paperback on the same day which gives a choice (I love to give hardback picture books for presents, but it’s not feasible to always buy them for home) RRP £10.99/£6.99 and almost certainly looking gorgeous on the shelf of your local indie bookshop right now (published 6th Feb.)
A huge hit with my daughters, and a fun book for girls and boys of all ages. Probably best for pre-school and up.
Disclosure: Received from Nosy Crow for review.