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Flinn, a seemingly ordinary boy who likes pirates and dinosaurs, is on a school trip to see dinosaur skeletons at a museum. He and his friends are in awe of the huge skeleton of the giganotosaurus, which the guide tells them was even mightier than Tyrannosaurus Rex. They are also intrigued when the guide shows them an empty glass case from which Captain Rufus Rumblebelly's treasure was stolen the night before.
Flinn and friends follow a trail of feathers and gold coins, thinking that it might hold a clue to the treasure. It leads them into a dark cupboard and, surprise surprise, the back of the cupboard falls away. The children find themselves in the cabin of a pirate ship where Rumblebelly's grandson, Gordon Gurgleguts, has been tied up and left. He admits to having taken the treasure from the museum, but it was then stolen from him.
Gurgleguts appoints Flinn as captain of the ship, and off they set to Bag o' Bones Island in search of the thieves and treasure. The culprits are of course the pirate dinosaurs, who manage to capture Gurgleguts and threaten to barbecue him. Tyrannosaurus Rex, however, remembers his previous encounter with Captain Flinn and brings on his fearsome cousin, Gigantosaurus. This huge monster is terrified of a tiny spider hanging from Flinn's hat. Flinn seizes the opportunity to grab the treasure, free Gurgleguts and tie up the dinosaurs. It's not long before they are heading back on the ship. At the museum, the guide is delighted to see the treasure returned, but there's no way he's going to believe in pirate dinosaurs.
"Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: Missing Treasure" is Giles Andreae's sequel to Flinn's first adventure when he vanquished Tyrannosaurus Rex. The idea of Flinn and his friends falling through the back of the cupboard not only has shades of C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", but is a repetition of the way the children found themselves on a pirate ship in the previous book. The story itself is, however, full of humour and excitement, and the ingredients of pirates, dinosaurs and lost treasure are bound to appeal to many young children.
Giles Andreae has of course invented the giganotosaurus, and has included a friendly note before the story starts on the pronunciation of the name, breaking it down into six syllables. I think a fair few adults will appreciate this. "Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: Missing Treasure" is a great read-aloud adventure, but with lengthy dinosaur names and insults like "dastardly dunderheads", it is not an ideal book for a child learning to read. Most of the text is in a large font, in fact some words and phrases are extra large for emphasis, but sometimes the font resembles handwriting. The text is superimposed on the illustrations, and in a few cases the background is a little dark.
Russell Ayto's illustrations are wonderful and definitely bring the story to life. He uses vibrant reds, blues and yellows alongside more muted colours, and really goes to town with the characters. The dinosaurs have huge toothy grins and evil eyes, while Gurgleguts is a round body with stick-like limbs and tiny spotted handkerchief on his head. As in the previous book, there is a colourful cross-section of the pirate ship showing mice in hammocks, a bed with a skull bed-head, and a soppy Gurgleguts hugging one of the children goodbye.
The device of the back of the cupboard falling away to get the children onto a ship was disappointing in the first story and even more so when it was repeated in "Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: Missing Treasure". Nevertheless, Giles Andreae has created an adventure story that most children, certainly boys, will love. The group of four-year-olds that I read it aloud to reacted to it with plenty of enthusiasm. One of the boys had the book at home and was able to recite a little song from the book as well as join in with a few other lines here and there. It was obviously a book that he had asked to have read to him again and again. Although not a favourite picture book of mine, the humour and sense of adventure make this a story that three to five-year-olds will not be bored by. Slightly older children may enjoy it too, but a young independent reader will probably find it quite challenging. Recommended for any fans of pirates and dinosaurs.
Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: Missing Treasure
By Giles Andreae (Author) and Russell Ayto (Illustrator)
Paperback, 32 pages
Price £6.99 (Amazon £4.18)
Also posted on other sites.
Our three year old son has a few things that he really loves and two of those things are Pirates and Dinosaurs. So, when he received 'Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs - Missing Treasure' as a birthday present it seemed perfect for him. In the six months since his birthday, this book has become one of his most requested bedtime stories, only rivalled by his infatuation with Charlie and Lola.
Flinn is a little boy who LOVES dinosaurs. One day, Flinn's class at school go on a school trip to see the dinosaur skeletons at the museum and that is where the adventure starts. After seeing the skeletons, Flinn and his friends spot an empty glass case from which the pirate treasure has been stolen. They follow a trail of feathers into a cupboard and fall into an old-fashioned pirate ship - I think that bit of the story may have been inspired by 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' as beyond the cupboard is a fantasy world where they help a pirate search for the missing treasure. Once they arrive at 'Bag of Bones Island' they make a terrifying discovery - it is not just pirates that have stolen the treasure, it is pirate dinosaurs. Like in all good children's stories, the children manage to save the day - defeating the dinosaurs and returning the missing treasure to the museum - and this is because the biggest dinosaur of them all, the Giganotosaurus is terrified of a tiny spider!
The story is very involving and my son still finds it exciting no matter how many times we read it to him. The writing style of Giles Andreae draws you into the story as a reader and encourages you to read it in a more creative way, with different voices, sound effects and even the occasional burst of song! It's definitely not a boring book to read - I always enjoy shouting out 'Attack', making the 'slash, swoosh, crash' noises as Flinn and his friends battle the pirate dinosaurs, and shrieking as the Giganotosaurus realises that there is a tiny spider hanging from Flinn's pirate hat. There is also a lot of comedy in the story - such as the Giganotosaurus' arachnophobia and the image of the Tyrannosaurus Rex squeezing a big dollop of tomato ketchup on to the captured pirate's head to prepare him for being eaten.
The illustrations by Russell Ayto are also good - they are very modern and quite graphic in style, almost like a comic book, instead of looking 'real' which I think adds to the fantasy element of the story. They also provide great talking points when sitting down and discussing the book with your child - for example, there is a page which shows the interior of the pirate ship on multiple levels, with all kinds of little details that my son loves trying to spot. The text is also designed in a way that complements the pictures - there are sound effects in speech bubbles and text in varying sizes to make you want to read it in a louder voice or emphasise certain words. I think this adds to the enjoyment factor as a reader, although I'm not sure whether the way the text is integrated with the pictures and bounces all over the pages would make it easier for young readers to read it for themselves - this is not an issue in our house yet as my little boy can't read.
The book is currently available on Amazon for £4.15. There are also two other books in the series - the first one which is simply entitled 'Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs' and another one called ''Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs - The Magic Cutlass'.
Overall, this is definitely a book that I would recommend for all children who love pirates, dinosaurs and have a sense of adventure. It's probably most suitable for ages 3-4 and upwards, as I don't think younger children would really appreciate the story and may be slightly scared by the dinosaurs. It's also fun for adults to read, which is an added bonus!