Friday, February 11, 2011

Picture Books: Pirate Pete by Kim Kennedy

Kim Kennedy, along with her artistic brother Doug, has created an amusing series of books based on a character named Pirate Pete.   The playful cartoonish illustrations and lively protagonist make this series worth checking out for ages 5-10.  There are currently 3 books in the series.

Pirate Pete loves gold.   He has plundered every ship and shore in the Seven Seas.  Discovering that the Queen has a treasure map, he comes up with a plan to steal it while his trusty parrot sings her to sleep.   Together, they make off with the map and begin their voyage to Mermaid Island in search of the treasure.  Pirate Pete is too easily lured in to other islands along the way.   He is convinced they have gold hidden on them.  For instance, he stops at Sleepy Island, reasoning that where there is sleep, there is the sandman.  Where there is the sandman, there is magic gold dust!  At Clover Island, he hopes to find the leprechaun’s pot of gold.  Each time he is disappointed to find no gold…until he reaches Dragon Island.  He plunders a gigantic golden egg!   Shortly after shoving off, the egg hatches into a fire-breathing dragon that ends up burning down his ship!  He eventually makes it to Mermaid Island, but things do not happen the way he planned.   He ends up marooned on the island with a row boat and his matey, the parrot. 

Pirate Pete’s Giant Adventure picks up where Pirate Pete left off.   The protagonist is sailing the sea in a small row boat.  His only companion is his plucky parrot.    A sea-fairy appears before him to request that he retrieve the Sea-Fairy Sapphire that was stolen.   He has two clues to help him on his quest—follow the sound of thunder and beware for thunder that does not come from clouds.   If he retrieves the special stone, he will receive a wondrous ship.  Throughout his journey, he sings a little song:

When I finds the Sea-Fairy Sapphire,
I’ll get me a ship of wonder.
All I gots to do
Is follow the sound of thunder.

Following the sound of thunder, Pirate Pete easily finds the stone.  Instead of immediately returning it to the sea though, he makes wishes for a map to the world’s greatest treasure and for the world’s mightiest sword.   Wisely, the parrot keeps insisting he return the Sapphire.   During the commotion, the “boom, boom, boom” creeps up on the duo.   It is a giant brute!   Using one of the oldest tricks (a la Briar Rabbit), Pirate Pete convinces the giant that the one thing most dreadful to him is to be thrown into the sea.  The giant finally tosses him out to sea.   Soon realizing he has been tricked, the giant continues to pursue Pirate Pete.  Eventually, the power of the Sapphire helps the pirate win his freedom and his wondrous ship. 

Now that Pirate Pete has a ship, he needs a crew!   He travels to Rascal Island to find the “dirtiest, most mischievous, and sneakiest-looking scallywags and scurvy dogs.”   As a group of bucchoneers tries out to be a member of the crew, they, first, prove themselves by shooting cannon effectively.   Second, they must convince Pirate Pete that they have all the desirable pirate characteristics---dirty, stanky, stubborn, and cranky!   Most of all, they must demonstrate they can talk like a pirate!  Each one fails on the final test.  For instance, one of the recruits responds about his beard:  “It is quite itchy…especially during the summer, when the weather tends to be sultry.”   Pete hollers that if he were really a pirate he would have said:

When the sun’s a-blazin’,
Me beard gets the itches,
Worse than a bucket of sand down me britches!

Each time Pirate Pete corrects the land-loving talk and makes the recruit walk the plank.   Not one is fit to “go a-swashbucklin’ and plunderin’” as far as he is concerned.  When Pirate Pete notices his bird talks just like a pirate, he realizes the plucky parrot is all the crew he needs.  Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate is a humorous use of language, poetry, and action.  It is the best book in the series. 


  1. Hello!

    My name is Laura, I'm a primary school teacher in Spain and i'm preparing a set of didactic units for my children based on pirates. I've thought that it could be a good idea to buy these series of Pirate Pete but i'm worried because of the text level. My children are 8-9 years old and they are learning English as a second language, would you recommend them in this case or it would be difficult? do you know any place where I can see the text or the pictures? besides, are there any other series on the same theme?

    Thank you!

  2. Good questions. I did not read it with those questions in mind. I can try to check the book out again to look specifically at the language. I don't recall that the vocabulary was difficult though. One good aspect of the series is there is a lot of repetition which is ideal for early readers. Right off, I don't know of any other pirate series. Here is a list of pirate fiction for children from BN,6,1766

    Here is a series I came across though I haven't read it:

  3. Thank you so much!

    I'll definitely have a look at the links, anyway I've already ordered the books to amazon :) I wish they would work :)


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