The Secret Pirate (Swashbuckle Lil: The Secret Pirate) by Elli Woollard

The Secret Pirate (Swashbuckle Lil The Secret Pirate) by Elli Woollard

Two short stories written in rhyme, suitable for children aged seven or eight and up.

School girl Lil is a secret pirate. Her classmates think she’s an ordinary girl and assume they’re just imagining things when they hear her bag squawk. They don’t know that’s where she keeps her parrot (whose name is Carrot). Her teacher, Miss Lubber, thinks Lil’s naughty and is unaware that Lil is really trying to save the teacher from being kidnapped by the wicked pirate, Stinkbeard. But Lil doesn’t mind because she knows the truth – she’s a bold and brave pirate and all her adventures are true (at least to her).

A very short book (89 pages in total) Swashbuckle Lil: The Secret Pirate contains two short stories written in rhyme, suitable for children aged seven or eight and up.

The stories themselves are slightly forced – a result of the need to make the rhyme work. The chapter breaks also seem largely arbitrary. However, it is unlikely that the child reader will notice this or care if they do. There is plenty of childish humour. For example, in the first story when Lil accidently catches the Headmaster, tripping and tying him up. Then in the second story there’s an incident when Lil tells Carrot to release the poo and, instead of hitting old Stinkbeard, it blows onto Miss Lubber. It’s not to my taste but I suspect children will enjoy the section where poo oozed in streams down her nose. There was poo on her face and all over the place. In her hair, on her bag, on her clothes.

Children are also likely to love the description of old Stinkbeard who rather reminded me of the characters in Roald Dahl’s The Twits. Stinkbeard has fleas from his armpits to his knees. And even his toenails had lice.

The illustrations by Laura Ellen Anderson are truly delightful, with great characterisation and lots of detail. There’s great pacing in the pictures and – just as the text reminds me of Roald Dahl – the illustrations are in many ways similar to the classic drawings of Quentin Blake.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to read some of the Roald Dahl classics such as The Twits or George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. Alternatively if you’d prefer something more modern that’s equally silly, why not try Creature Teacher by Sam Watkins.

ISBN: 978-1509808823
Date: May 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Pages: 96
Author’s Website:Elli Woollard


Review first published on The Bookbag

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