What’s more fun than pirates? A piratical retelling of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, with a fun twist!
Book: The Pirates Are Coming! by John Condon and Matt Hunt
Read before: No
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Nosy Crow. All opinions my own.
This book focuses on Tom, who is keeping a keen eye out for ships on the horizon so he can warn the people of his coastal village when the pirates are coming. He raises several false alarms, so when the pirates really do arrive, no one is bothered – how will Tom convince everyone to hide? It’s a story that riffs off The Boy Who Cried Wolf, but don’t worry. It’s not anywhere near as morbid or moralistic as that. There’s a major twist that makes this book brilliant fun – the pirates are not the fearsome invaders you might expect, and the ending is really heartwarming.
The art is entertaining, with a huge amount of funny details to spot and a great variety of faces on both the villagers and the pirates. It’s fun to see all the different hiding places they can find (including in a big pile of fish!) and I can imagine little ones poring over the scenes to see all the silly situations the villagers have got themselves into! The pirates themselves are also really fun, from scars to hooks to stripy trousers and tattoos. There’s a lot to look at and the art style itself is really dynamic and fun.
Also, a huge amount of kudos for the pirate captain being a woman (and spoilers ahoy, Tom’s mum) – this seems like only a small tweak to expectations, but goes a long way to making sure there are more strong and active women (and ones who aren’t portrayed as traditionally beautiful/cute) in picture books. It’s a decision that has made me sure to keep this on the shelves for my own children! Also, as with my last review of a Nosy Crow picture book, we have a father in a prominent caring role – Tom’s dad has stayed to look after him while his mum is off doing pirate things. Again, I love books that show fathers taking an active part in parenting!
In fact, the return of the pirates allows the book to show off an array of different family groups, showing that a family can be a pirate and her elderly father, a pirate and his wife, a pirate and his husband and their adopted daughter, or even a pirate and his pets! The homecoming spread is probably my favourite in the whole book – I love how casual but clear the diversity is, with characters of all colours and ages in varied family groups. It’s the best thing about the whole book.
An absolute joy to read – five out of five cats!