Author: Colin McNaughton
Illustrator: Colin McNaughton
Publisher and Year: Candlewick Press, 1994
Number of pages: 31
Genre: Humor, Fiction
Descriptive Annotation: Maisy Pickles’ dad thinks she is too soft, so he sends her to Captain Abdul’s Pirate School with the hope that she will toughen up. Captain Abdul is a scary looking man, but is kind to the students. He introduces them to the teachers, an interesting bunch of men, and gives them their school uniforms. Maisy finds her classes exciting and interesting, and she finds her teachers to be crazy. She is learning how to act, talk, and look like a pirate. Everything is going well until Maisy overhears the teachers talking about how they are going to kidnap the students for ransom. The pirates will not return the children until their parents pay up. Maisy rushes back to the sleeping quarters to warn the other students. Together, the students devise a plan to attack the teachers. The plan is carried out smoothly, and the teachers do not know what hit them. The students tie up the teachers, leave them on the dock with a note to tell their parents what happened, and set sail for the West Indies, where they live happily ever after. Although detailed and funny, there is a lot going on in the pictures, which could distract you and make you lose your place while reading. The illustrations remind me of a “Where’s Waldo” book. A neat feature of this book is that it is written as a diary entry from the perspective of Maisy. Students will need to know what a pirate is and what the West Indies are before reading this book.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is about the pirate culture, but I would not consider it to be culturally diverse. Every page contains a lot of “pirate language,” so this would not be a suitable book to help young students develop their reading skills. However, the pirate language would make this book a fun read aloud. Because of the difficult and lengthy text, I recommend this book for upper elementary students.
Interdisciplinary Connections: You could have your students pretend they are a student at Captain Abdul’s Pirate School and write a diary or journal entry about what they are doing and seeing at school.
Other Information: I think this book is a fun read, and the characters are comical. As a warning and something to keep in mind, this book mentions the pirates drinking rum and smoking their pipes. For a closure activity, you could have your students compare and contrast their school and Captain Abdul’s Pirate School.