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My last review was of another book in this series "Pirates", and while either book could stand alone, they do compliment each other. Because these books are only 24 pages, have large colour illustrations and a fairly large text size, there is only so much information each single volume can contain. Unlike "Pirates", this book also includes the Project X micro friends. These are familiar characters to readers of this series, but play a very limited role in this book, with small speech bubbles making comments on pirate life.
"Blackbeard's Ship" does have an excellent drawing of "Queen Anne's Revenge", as well as some information on Blackbeard himself. It also explains the difference between a pirate and a privateer. But the majority of the book is about life as a pirate in the Blackbeard's time ( early 1700's) in general.
Life as pirate was usually short. Blackbeard started as privateer, as did many pirates, but his time as a pirate was short. He was killed in battle two years after taking up piracy. Battle was not the primary cause of death for pirates though, most died of hunger or disease. This book paints a fairly grim picture of life on a pirate ship, with rats filth, smell, hunger and pestilence. The food is described as often rotten and infested by maggots, fresh water for drinking was in short supply. Bathing water was not needed as they neither bathed nor washed their clothing. In short a pirates life ranks right up there with slavery and imprisonment, with penal servitude likely being a step up in living conditions.
So this book will certainly be a disappointment for someone looking for an a glamorous adventure, but it does present a realistic view of piracy. Although Pirates are not actually mentioned in the national Curriculum, many schools do teach unit studies on pirates. It just a perfect subject to combine literacy, history, geography, art, maths, and even ethics all into one theme. I am planning to use these books again for a Pirate unit study next fall.
I think this book is perfect to give children an idea what a pirate ship was really like. I like having both fiction and non fiction books for my son to choose from, so he grows up used to relying on books as means to learn about anything he desires. My son enjoyed this book, although as mentioned with the other Pirate Book, he no longer sees being a pirate as any fun. I had not really anticipated these books drawing moral questions, but they did, and my son no longer admires piracy as he sees the idea of attacking innocent ships and sailors to steal what ever they may have as wrong. I can't really argue with that. I suppose that may have taken away a childhood fantasy, but he can just as easily play Privateer, which does not come with the same moral reservations.
Once again, this is a book that caught my son's interest, although it is not likely to become a favourite bedtime story. It is still a book that encourages boys to want to read, and to learn from books. I have found this very useful as it provides interesting reading material at the right level of difficulty for my son simply by choosing the correct colour book band ( Gold level 9 ). It also will remain a useful reference book in our non fiction collection.