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There seem to be certain subjects that are certain to get young boys interested in a story. I think Steve Cole wanted to make sure he didn't miss any of them with this book. There are sword fights, poop fights, poo filled missiles, a green slime monster, pirates, dinosaurs and more in the wacky space adventure.
The Star Pirates is the 11th book in Steve Cole's popular Astrosaurs series. I started buying these books for my youngest, who is only 4, as he always wants dinosaur stories at night, and after telling our own make up stories, I like something I can just read and not have to think. I really didn't expect my oldest, who has just turned 8 to like these at all. After all, he complained bitterly about other series having dinosaurs and humans in the same story - which is of course impossible - so I didn't really think he would fancy the idea of talking herbivores flying about in poo powered space ships, having battles with poo torpedoes and poo blasters as they traveled through the Jurassic Quadrant, but I failed to appreciate the attraction of loads of **** in a story.
The entire Astrosaurs series is based on the premise that before the meteor hit earth, the dinosaurs abandoned the planet - flying off to colonise space. The herbivores have the Vegetarian Sector, while the meat eaters reside in the Carnivore Sector. These two areas are separated by a thin "veg meat" or neutral zone. Our heroes are a small band of Astrosaurs dedicated to patrolling the Vegetarian Sector and protecting it against attacks by unscrupulous carnivores. The main characters are: Captain Teggs the stegosaurus, Arx the triceratops, Iggy the Iguanodon and Gypsy who appears to be a cross between a Corythosaurus and a Parasaurolophus. This team is assisted my a crew of Dimorphodon.
In this book the crew has set a clever trap for an evil band of space pirates that has been attacking ships in the area. Unfortunately the trap isn't quite clever enough and Teggs and Arx soon find themselves captured by the carnivorous pirate band. Iggy and Gypsy assisted by the chief of the Dimorphodon, Sprite, attempt a rescue but will they find the pirates hidden base in time?
There are plenty of fights in this book including a sword fight that results in the pirate captain losing his trousers. The humour in this book does rely heavily on butts and poo. There is even a Pollysaurus - a squawking pirate pterosaur who bombards his enemies with "bottom bullets" fired directly from his .... bottom. The illustration quite clearly shows the orifice from which these stink bombs emit, and my sons were laughing to the point of tears.
But in addition to all of the silliness in this book, there is an actual storyline as well. It isn't exactly War and Peace, but it is a decent plot and it even has small moral to the story about not judging creatures by their appearances. It has plenty of action and adventure without any serious violence, but this is primarily a funny story, something to have the children in giggles for hours with.
This book is illustrated, but the illustrations are very simple, cartoon line drawings. Each book has four collectors cards in the front though, so the children do get a chance to see the main characters in full colour as well. The cards are nice and thick, well drawn and colourful, although still very cartoon like.
These books are listed as appropriate for ages 8 +. I think this is too high an age level. As these are very similar in reading level to Horrid Henry, I would place these as ages 6 - 7 + for independent reading. My oldest has just turned 8 and finds these a very easy read. If your child has made the jump to chapter books comfortably, these books should not present too much difficulty.
I also feel that many much younger children would enjoy these if parents are willing to do the reading. Once a child reaches the point where they tire of reading familiar books too often and want a different story every night, or at least quite often, paperbacks do become the best option as you get far more reading material for the price. A paperback book can easily be spread out over two or three nights. I would also recommend this book for parents to read aloud before children have quite made the jump to chapter books. Listening to stories and taking an interest in a series can be a real incentive for children to stretch their reading ability and take on more challenging material.
The only draw back to this book is that it really is not the best for settling children down and making them sleeping. It is just far too funny for that.
If I read this book on my own - I would give this 3 - 4 stars. It is a good book, and funny, but I don't have quite the same appreciation for this that my sons have. They would both give this 10 stars if they could though, and we are quickly collecting the books in this series. I have 3 more ordered at the moment. This sells for £3.74 new and delivered from Amazon - but it is worth watching for bargains. Amazon often has books in this series near £1.50 - £2.00 used, including delivery prices and ebay often has very good deals as well. I believe I paid nearly £2 for this with an Amazon warehouse deal - which means it looks like a brand new book. It really does not matter which order you read these books in, so I just wait until I see a very good bargain.