This is a good empowerment story for young girls told in a way that they can enjoy the story for itself. My 3-year old granddaughter brings this book to me to read to her a lot. And it is one of the few I don't grow tired of re-reading to her.
Our almost 4 year old daughter loved this book from first reading. It’s a bit of a fairy tale with a twist in that our heroine rescues herself and gets what she wants through hard work and by reading. She’s kind but no pushover and she’s creative and smart. It’s also about pirates rather than princesses and our heroine is not blond or necessarily white, although she isn’t ascribed a race in the book.
The illustrations are cute and there are some great facial expressions amongst both the animals and people drawn. I would say the story would fit with 3-5year olds well. Most of them have done an under-the-sea-type theme at preschool in that time so you can do lots of pointing out animals, asking what they are or asking how characters might be feeling from their facial expressions.
This is a great book both in terms of it being entertaining but also having a solid message for all girls and boys.
There are so many kid’s books about pirates that you could probably open a bookshop called 'Just Pirates'. They are mean, but kind of fun so it is easy to see why kids like them, but it is also hard to come up with a story that uses them in a new way. 'Captain Sparklebeard' by Timothy Knapman and Sam Lloyd has a good attempt by making the book about pirates, but also about the power of knowledge.
Peg wants to be a pirate, but when she offers her skills to a Pirate Captain she is rebuffed for being too weedy and knowing how to read. The book highlights that Peg's ability to read and think for herself is a powerful tool. Peg is no damsel in distress and once she has a setback she goes about making her own way. She uses knowledge found in books to beat the pirates at their own game. The twin messages of reading is good and empowering yourself, are two things that any kid should be taught.
Message wise the book is excellent and the story is fun, if a little simple. Knapman may be writing about pirates, but these are not the bloodthirsty kind, so the book maintains the right tone for a 3-5 year old throughout. The illustrations by Lloyd are full on and colourful. The haphazard style maintains a sense of fun, but I did think that some of the text was a little on the tricky side to follow. The words bounce around the page a little and change size. This does work in many children's books, but here it was a little scratchy in places and caused some slight difficulty in following it.
'Captain Sparklebeard' is the type of empowering book that all kids will love, but especially book loving girls as the main character of Peg will real chime with them. It is a read-with children’s book, but even with the text being a little off in places a child should be able to read it themselves once they start gaining the confidence.
Peg lived with her wicked Step-Great-Grand-Auntie who made her do all the work whilst she sat and watched. One day whilst she was out walking her Auntie’s cat she saw that a ship with pirates had come to town. Peg loved pirates and had read many books featuring them. She had an idea, why not ask the pirates if she could join them.
Peg asked the captain of the ship, Captain Hairy-Ears if she could be a pirate too, but the pirate laughed at her and told her, pirates don’t read books, they don’t ask nicely, they aren’t small and they all have beards.
Peg was angry, she could be the best pirate ever and so she came up with a plan to show Captain Hairy-Ears just how good she could be.
Captain Sparklebeard is a beautifully illustrated book that shows that people should not underestimate others. Peg is a lovely character who is made to do horrible jobs by her Auntie. When she sees a way to change her life she is determined to make her dreams come true and she goes for it. She isn’t happy when the Captain of the ship dismisses.
She doesn’t let the Captain upset her though she comes up with a plan, a very clever plan at that. She will show the Captain and his crew just how good she can be by disguising herself and finding the treasure on their treasure map before they do. You see Peg is educated and understands how to read a map properly, she is pragmatic and knows what it takes to get past obstacles and she is strong-willed and doesn’t give up easily.
The book is all about empowerment and being the best you can. I love that Peg is polite and won’t change that to be a pirate and that she is educated too and is proud of that fact.
This is a book that will show children they can be who they want to be and that size and gender should never stand in your way.
Book Reviewed on Whispering Stories Blog *I received a free copy of this book, which I voluntarily reviewed
Captain Sparklebeard is filled with adventure and makes a great case for reading. Trying to escape her wicked Step-Great-Grand Auntie, Peg meets some pirates looking for treasure but being a small girl, being able to read and demonstrating politeness, she isn’t allowed to join their crew so she builds her own boat and turns herself into a pirate to find it herself. But the pirates can’t read and Peg beats them making them want to join her crew. It didn’t matter that she was small, a girl and polite – she proved she could be the best pirate ever. Each page/double page is very colourful and filled with detail so there are a lot of things to point out and talk about. There’s not a huge amount of text and while it’s descriptive also includes alliteration and a few pirate noises – easy for them to join in with. It’s one we will definitely be going back to again and again and you could even do what Peg has done to create your own pirate costume (better make sure you’re allowed to cut up the curtains first!).
Recently my 8-year-old niece was at school and her class was asked what they wanted to do when they grew up. Apparently the girls all wanted to be hairdressers or actresses, excepting said niece, who said quite decidedly that she wanted to be an aeroplane engineer. The boys all then told her that she couldn't because she was a girl, but instead of being cowed, she told them that she could "because my dad said so"! The moral of this story is that gender stereotypes are still very much in evidence, even in our children.
This is a book aimed at young children, but challenging that! It's the story of how young Peg manages to out-smart all of the other (male!) pirates. Obviously there isn't a lot of text and there are bright pictures, but the message of the story is that you can be what you want to be! A good lesson for all boys and girls... whatever their age!
So poor Peg was living with her wicked great great aunt who used her like a servant girl. One day she sees a pirate ship and decides that is the life for her. She has to disguise herself of course which she does really well. Off they sail to find treasure. Peg is a real hero and the pirates do not mind that she is a girl in disguise because she is a great pirate. So Sparklebeard is born. I love the illustrations very vivid and colourful. Also some funny additions like a pirate clutching his teddy bear. The story is fairly simple and so easy to read as a bedtime story and then a child could learn to read by themselves. I wasn't so keen on the wicked old relative at the beginning but maybe it is good to bring in some elements of the old fairy tales and it does convey the message that if life is bad then change it!
A simple tale of a little girl deciding to do what's not allowed, and using her brains to ultimately succeed. It's indebted to the Rebel Girls craze (indeed the phrase "For rebel girls with big dreams" is actually on the back cover, if there was any doubt) and is absolutely by-the-numbers as a tale of female triumph. Of course, while the message can feel clankingly obvious, the fact remains that it this type of narrative is still bucking a centuries old tradition of a fair (and helpless) maiden waiting to be rescued by a handsome prince. With that in mind it wouldn't feel right to be overly critical here.
Most importantly my three year old daughter thought it was funny, and loved the haphazard illustration and font style. My six year old daughter read it herself and enjoyed it.