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This book is another in the Project X pirate cluster which my son finished off the school year with. Unlike the books I have reviewed previously from this cluster, this story has a modern setting. It features the micro friends - four friends with special watches that allow them to shrink down to micro size and takes place at their school, where their teacher has staged a pirate fair, complete with a treasure hunt for buried treasure (chocolate coins). The children are instructed to remember the pirate code though, the treasure is meant to be shared with everyone. For those who have read the non fiction books in this cluster, this code is mentioned in them as well. It seems that all booty taken was divided up among the pirates ( although I imagine the captain may have taken a larger share). Attempting to cheat your mates was considered the worst crime a pirate could commit, calling for removal from the ship - whether directly overboard or being left marooned on a small island.
The children are dressed in simple pirate costumes, regular clothes with the addition of a few props like an eye patch or bandanna and toy swords. One child, stands out from the crowd though, as she is dressed in a full pirate costume of the type that one might find on a movie set. This is the first book we have read with Lucy, but she will appear in other books as well. Lucy is the perfect example for children of how not to behave. Although she takes it to the extreme, I'm sure we have all known a few children like this. When the children are given their first clue for the treasure hunt Lucy announces that she will be the winner - as she is more clever than any of the other children. The problem is Lucy never shares so the other children must find the treasure first. The rest of the story includes an adventure for the micro friends who shrink down in size to hunt for the treasure out of Lucy's sight and a very just ending for Lucy.
This book is stage 9 in Oxford's levelled reading programme, and is recommended for Year 2, or Primary 3. We used it at the end of Primary 2, but will use it again for our own pirate theme unit study next term. As always with this series, my son found this book much easier to read than the non fiction books in the same cluster. This story continues to build on the vocabulary established in the earlier volumes, so if your child has been reading through this series, they should have a limited amount of difficulty. I say limited, because this series is meant to be a little bit difficult. It is meant to present enough new words to be challenging, while keeping to enough familiar words to avoid frustration. However, because this series does use a number of words that children who have not read the rest of the series may be unfamiliar with, I would suggest starting at least one book band or reading level below your child's current reading level when starting out with this series.
Another feature in this series is a handy list of tricky words at the beginning of the story. I always read these out loud to my son before we start a new book. The list for this book includes telescope, knees, and ache. My son found the last two particularly difficult, so I also discussed the phonics behind these words and talked about other examples of silent "k" and the hard "c" sound and silent "h" instead of the usual "ch" sound. I do appreciate that we can go over these words before he tries to read the book though as this allows him to read through the story with an even flow rather than having to stop midstream to decode harder words.
My sons both enjoyed this story. The oldest child (6) enjoying reading it, and the youngest (2) enjoyed listening to it. We also discussed how Lucy's behaviour might have made the others feel and my sons especially liked the ending. I liked the fact that this provides a good opportunity to talk about how we treat others as well. I am also looking forward to including this in our pirate week and will certainly be staging our own treasure hunt as well.
Book Series: Project X