I loved the ole Hollywood swashbuckler films when I was a child. Something about the unknown lands and travel spoke to my inert expat sensibility. The thing is I can’t remember any of them having a female captain. Times are changing and we do see a female hero figure from time to time. Round about the time when Lil V was a toddler, the ‘Pirate Princess’ fancy dress and other items came on the scene. Although we never got around to trying any, she developed an adventurer’s heart. Lantana Publishing sent me a review copy of The Pirate Tree to review. It’s a story with a Pirate Captain who happens to be a girl! It got better; there is a brown child on the cover. The Pirate Tree is a brilliant story about imaginative play, friendship and the child’s expat experience.
The gnarled tree on the hill sometimes turns into a pirate ship. A rope serves as an anchor, a sheet as a sail, and Sam is its fearless captain. But one day another sailor approaches, and he’s not from Sam’s street. Can they find something more precious than diamonds and gold?
The Pirate Tree demonstrates how play unites. It’s my observation that children do notice the difference in skin colour but it means something different to them; ‘it’s an interest not hate. Ortiz doesn’t tell a story about race on the surface of it. When Sam and Agu, first encounter each other, Sam says, ‘I don’t know you. You are not from my street.’ He feels hurt and ponders what his aunt to told him ‘to be patient’. The ‘difference’ Sam notices is that Agu is a stranger. We later find out he’s from another country.
I would say there are three main characters in the book; the third being the tree that Sam plays on. SO much so, Ang said he felt sad for the tree being when it was on its own when the children weren’t around.
Poh’s approach to the illustration gives a sense of the vastness of the sea. The characters are given space to explore and imagine uninhibited. In fact, their imagination is all they need to populate their world and go on adventures
Angelo’s Best Bits: He liked how Sam and Agu became friends
Val’s Best Bits: She enjoyed how Sam and Agu used their imaginations during play
My Best Bits: I liked how subtly yet powerfully Agu’s experience as an expat was portrayed.
Written by Brigita Orel
Illustrated by Jennie Poh
Reading Age: 4-8 years
Extent: 32 pages
Book size: 22 x 24 cm
Pub Date: 5th September 2019
ISBN (hardcover): 978-1-911373-87-2
The Tiger Tales is part of a #bookstagram tour which was put together by Lantana Publishing. You will find our entry on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/msxpat/. The Other participants are:
@mamma_fliz, @ivyslibrary, @thelittleliterarysociety, @afamitythatreads and @hereweread
For more information on Lanatana Publishing and their books please visit their website.