12 September 2008

Going on a Picnic

Several weeks ago I found the Picnic Basket, a blog that features new kid lit and offers teachers and librarians the opportunity to get complimentary copies of those books in exchange for reviews. I chose Sea Queens: Women Pirates Around the World by Jane Yolen.

On the Picnic-Basket scale, I'd give it a 4. I enjoyed most of the book, but some of the profiles were a bit short.

I loved the sidebars throughout the book that explain pirate terminology or give extra tidbits of history. "The Pirate's Code" and "Pirate or Privateer?" are especially good. My favorite profile was of 16th century Irish pirate Grania O'Malley. Lots of colorful detail and great information about what historians do and do not know about the real Grania. The chapters on Artemisia and Madame Ching give a non-European experience of pirating; this helps make the book more well-rounded. The roundup of Sea Queens that historians don't know much about is a nice touch and the bibliography is excellent.

I'd like to see Yolen expand the chapter on Anne Bonney and Mary Read into a book. It's a fascinating story and one that I can see students getting in to.