Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Pi-Rat! by Maxine Lee (Caterpillar Books)

Is it possible to have too many pirate-based children's books? Purely looking back over the last year at the sheer amount of pirate-based titles we've looked at (and we've by no means caught them all) you could easily drown in the piratical sea. So it takes something pretty special to keep the jaunty theme going and engage kids in yet another swashbuckling tale.

Pi-Rat, written and Illustrated by Maxine Lee introduces us to the fearless titular rodent. With his brave animal crew, he fears nothing, he thirsts for treasure, adventure and excitement on the high seas!

Children, Charlotte included, love pirates because they represent so many things that tap into a child's tastes. The chance for a bit of subversive naughtiness, vicariously played out through pirate characters. The vast rewards of a treasure-chest full of booty. Huge levels of excitement and anticipation tracing the lines of a treasure map, following mysterious legends that tell tales of great danger and equally great riches.

Pi-Rat has these things, played out in the mind of a rather mischievous and cheeky little rat. I personally didn't connect with the book as much as Charlotte did. She loved it, and I think she really loved Pi-Rat's energy and sheer stick-your-tongue-out cheekiness. Perhaps the problem I had with it was that we've seen similar tales before (in fact if you take a look at Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves' excellent book "Plunge into the Pirate Pool" it's eerily similar, replacing a bath tub for a swimming pool but with the same core story underneath).

Pirate books are great, don't get me wrong. Charlotte will avidly enthuse about them and the fresh approach of an imagined pirate tale seen through the eyes of our cheeky rat friend is indeed engaging and fun. With another pirate-based title waiting in the wings for review (more on that very soon) perhaps it's just me but I'd seriously love to see folk leave the pirates alone for a while and seek out new characters and stories to base their brilliant books on.

Charlotte would probably say "Don't be silly Daddy, it's ace" (in fact she has told me off for being a bit 'down' on Pirate books before). So ignore my mumblings, take her advice and sign yourself up for a nautical tale aboard the good ship Soapy Dodger with Pi-Rat today!

Charlotte's best bit: The scariest monster of them all, towards the end of the book! Eeeeek! Run!

Daddy's favourite bit: Lots of fizzing energy and a good rip-roaring pirate tale. Even though I'm a little burned out on pirate books I still love 'em to bits.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Caterpillar Books)