The Homesick Pirate
Clare Lewis (author)
Catherine Skipper (illustrator)
Publisher: Catherine Skipper, Matavai, Waterloo
On the surface, Peta seems like your typical pirate with his wooden leg, parrot on his shoulder, eye patch, Jolly Roger and propensity for exclaiming AAARRrgggh.
But things are amiss in Peta’s life. He’s tired of plundering ships (just the thought of it “makes his peg-leg creak” and shivers his timbers), the sea seems endless (“salty and seetherling”) and his diet predictable (“Tentacles again, and seaweed fricassee”).
Peta’s sad and begins to cry. Why?
“It was a long, long time since Peta’d seen another mate, he was sick of all the shanties in his record crate.”
Years before, Peta’s mother Gertie had quit life on the high seas and ventured ashore without him. Lately, he’d been lonely and was missing her. He’d thought more and more about how she’d said it was mean to steal from other sailors – and it soon became clear to Peta that he needed a sea change.
Happily, Peta’s sighs of anguish (AAARRrgggh) soon become a simpler Argh – a sigh of happiness and relief.
The Homesick Pirate’s intriguing plot is just one of the reasons I think this witty, whimsical and wonderous picture book will be perfect to read to the little ones in your life. It’s so warm and inviting, I’m pretty sure they’ll want you to read it over and over to them – and that you won’t resist.
Repeated readings should help children relish the book’s clever use of language and puns, and the compelling illustrations, which seem to yield more bounty each time you look at them.
Some of my favourites were Gertie’s orange, sea-anemone-like hair; Shippy McShipface the boat; the bomb-laden cart that says “boom”; and the little mice that pop up on nearly every page – observing, offering comments and holding their jaunty little umbrellas aloft.
The drawings are colourful and lovingly rendered, supporting the soothing and amusing tone of the book, a tone which should help children feel safe to talk about missing their Mums and normalising the experience. (Surely, if Peta the pirate can miss his Mum, any of us can!)
The Homesick Pirate is a book about questioning paths, trusting your feelings, finding a home, and having adventures. Grab a copy for the children you care about, soon, and set sail.
The Homesick Pirate was published in May, 2023