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The Pirates Are Coming!

The Pirates Are Coming!

John Condon
Nosy Crow Ltd
ISBN: 9781788006798

Tom spends his days keeping watch for the arrival of the pirates. Everyday he looks out for them from his vantage point at the top of the hill, his handbell at the ready to alert the whole village the moment he catches sight of a pirate ship. His vigilance pays off when he spots what he thinks is a ship in the distance. His cries of, 'Pirates! The pirates are coming' prompts the villagers to go into hiding.

Alas, it was a case of mistaken identity. Not a pirate ship after all, just a small fishing boat. Tom is reminded by his dad that pirate ships are big. There are a couple more false alarms as the story progresses. Each time, Tom learns something about pirate ships and their distinguishing features, so that he could identify one if it came into view.

The tension in the book is ramped up each time we hear the familiar refrain, announcing the pirates' arrival. The villagers become a little less enthusiastic about going into hiding as they begin to doubt Tom's credibility. When the pirates finally do arrive and Tom shouts his warning, the villagers carry on regardless, the tattooed pirates march menacingly into the village and, as the captain's parrot squawks, everyone hides at the very last minute. The ending of the story is satisfying and a little unexpected.

There is much to savour in the illustrations in their depiction of harbour life, including some wonderful village characters. The inventive hiding places chosen by the villagers every time they are told of the pirates' arrival give the reader much cause for amusement. Younger readers will enjoy spotting many creatures, including parrots, gulls, pigs and a black cat, which feature in the various scenarios. A great pirate story with a difference - it can also be used as a contrast with the more recognised folktale, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Judith Greenall, librarian


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