________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 7 . . . . November 26, 2004

cover Space Pirates: A Map-Reading Adventure.

Scoular Anderson.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2004.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $10.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-880-5 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-881-3 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Picture puzzles-Juvenile literature.
Map reading-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Lori Walker.

**½ / 4


Space pirate ship, Sleepy Sheep, is zooming through a galaxy...On board is Pirate Captain Tosca... Navigator Needlespune...Engineer Dogszboddi...the cabin boy, Coleslaw...and the computer, IDA (short for Intergalactic Direction Assistant).

Coleslaw popped the treasure map disk into the computer.

“Hi there! This is IDA. Isn’t it a lovely day? Here are the facts:
Name of planet: Salmagundy. This is the treasure planet. The toast is ready. Have a lovely breakfast!”

“It’s damp here. I can feel it! It will give me a chill and the shivers!”

“You’re right! It looks like a swamp.”

“Oh no, I’ll need my anti-swamp syrup.”

“Right, ask IDA what we’ve got to do to find the treasure, Coleslaw.”

“Aye, aye, Captain!”

“There are many treasure chest here and a lot of them are empty. To find the full treasure chests, you must follow the routes carefully to make sure no one is following you.

(...) I will give you instructions, maps and diagrams to help you find the right treasure chests. While you are at it keep track of any new animals you see.

I’m about to print out your first set of instructions. Happy hunting and stay clear of swamp sharks!”

Space Pirates: A Map-Reading Adventure offers its readers a goofy little story, bright cartoon illustrations, and some practice at careful reading and following instructions wrapped up as a puzzle book. The objective is to read IDA’s instructions and follow the paths that lead to the correct treasure chest on each the page. Ten double page puzzles are included, with instructions in a panel on the left of the illustration and a cartoon story on the right, offering a variety of enjoyable decoding experiences for young readers. The plot is less sophisticated than the average television cartoon, but there is sense of accomplishment to be had by successfully locating the correct chest in order to proceed on to the next page. This requires using basic pattern matching, compass tracking, and grid references, making the book a useful introduction to units teaching these skills.

     Scoular Anderson’s illustrations are similar to the “Where’s Waldo” comic style, but, while his backdrops are less crowded, it’s still easy to take a wrong turn and end up with the wrong chest. Young readers with solid reading skills will enjoy the challenge and the silly characters, including a hypochondriac space alien with pickle shaped head and Captain Tosca with her enoki mushroom-shaped hair and eye patch. The fun artwork may even inspire young cartoonists to plot out their own adventures with their own characters.

     Space Pirates would be equally useful and fun as recreational or educational reading or as a book to enjoy after classroom work is completed or with a couple of buddies during an inside recess.


Lori Walker is completing a Masters in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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