Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Pirate House Swap by Abie Longstaff, illustrated by Mark Chambers

7th April 2011, Picture Corgi
24 pages, Paperback 
Review copy 

Children's, 5+ 

Pirates, life at sea, family life, adventure, humour, mischief, holidays

Every year the Clark family spent the summer at home in the city. This year they want to do something different with their summer holidays, but what?

The Clarks absolutely can’t agree on anything until Dad spots an advert in the paper with the perfect answer – a house swap! 

Find out what happens when the Clarks swap their house for a pirate ship, and what the crew of unruly pirates get up to in the Clarks’ house . . 

Nayuleska's thoughts
I loved Alie's previous book, The Fairytale Hairdresser: Or How Rapunzel Got Her Prince! A box of books arrived this morning, and I immediately honed in on the picture books (I'm quite fond of them). I beamed at this book when I saw it, and knew I'd have to read it straight away (I couldn't wait until nearer publication). This definitely gets a thumbs up from me! 

First I'd like to talk about the illustrations by Mark. There are lots of little details which add extra zing to the book. I don't know how well you can see on the front page, but there are cobwebs on the letters, some swords make up part of the letters, as well as the ship's wheel and a bandanna. In the book there are mice on most of the pages, doing things that the characters are doing. 

There are mice...
Using a telescope while perching on an oar
Washing the deck
Sleeping in a hammock (it has a cute tiny little one). 
Eating the food for the parrot. 
With eyepatches
Using a mini hoover
In a football kit kicking a ball 
Sitting under a table fishing in the cat's water bowl (there are no fish there) 
Climbing the rigging
Baking a cake mouse sized cake while wearing a chef's hate 
Riding on a cat's back 

I love this kind of thing in books, because they add another dimension to the story. The mice themselves aren't mentioned in the story, so it's like discovering a secret story within the main story. 

On with the story! Abie has done a great job on exploring the life of pirates. There's nothing like taking on someone else's job to learn how they do it. The family struggle at first with the basic concepts of sailing. But after a few mishaps they begin to get the hang of it. You'd think all would be fine, but when they get home the pirates have made quite a few changes to their house and possessions. Some of the changes are put right, others can't so compensation is given in the form of gifts. 

Just as with the illustrations, in the story there are lots of little details that I liked picking out. In the first newspaper ad, where they pick their holiday swap, the rest of the houses are to do with common fairy tales (a direct link to life in The Fairy Hairdresser). If you look very carefully on the opposite page, where most of the writing is too small to be seen, all the ads there are also to do with fairy tales! That made me smile. I liked the fonts used for the pirate's letter, as well as what they said. The post it notes with list of things to do/buy were a nice touch. 

Something which I only discovered as I read the book - some of the pages have flaps! They open up different ways. The pages show what's happening with the Clark family, and when the flaps are lifted they reveal what's going on with the pirates back at the house. I liked how both lives were shown at the same time - it was definitely more fun than having a normal book with the pirate's tale on the following pages. The flaps are sturdy, so if younger children get hold of the books they should survive a fair amount of rough play. 

Final conclusion 
This is a great book that shows how people adapt when they are presented with circumstances totally alien to them, as well as what happens when you get pirates away from their own ship. I think that children will get lots of ideas from this book, and play at being pirates in their home. 

You can check out all of Abie's work on her website.

Suggested reads 

Here's a pirate adventure for older readers: Dread Pirate Fleur and the Hangman's Noose by Sara Starbuck

1 comment:

Home swap said...

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