________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 18 . . . . January 13, 2012


Pirate Gran.

Geraldine Durrant. Illustrated by Rose Forshall.
St. John's, NL: Breakwater Books, 2011.
32 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55081-361-6.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Claire Perrin.

***½ /4



Gran doesn't do pirating any more. But she still wears her old pirate hat around the house, and carves the roast with her cutlass. She says it reminds her of "the good times".

And she keeps a crocodile under her bed.

He's pretty harmless really, although if he's in a bad mood she has to run from the bedroom door and leap on to her mattress so he doesn't nip her ankles.

Pirate Gran is a light-hearted story of a spunky grandma with an adventurous past. Stories about pirates abound, but it is rare to read about a female pirate, especially one who is a senior citizen. Told from a grandchild's perspective, Pirate Gran describes the unusual life grandma led in her younger years.

internal art      As a feisty young pirate, Gran engaged in the usual rough lifestyle for which pirates are known, including walking the plank, pillaging and sword fighting. Eventually, she met Grandpa when he was captured and robbed by Gran's shipmates. Gran came to his rescue, and it was love at first sight. Now retired, Gran lives a normal life in a cottage by the sea with Grandpa. Although her pirate days are over, she is still a pirate at heart.

      Rose Forshall's comical illustrations include lots of funny details about Gran's past and present life. She is pictured doing typical grandmother activities, but there are always lots of clues in the pictures of her previous life. When she serves a fish dinner to Grandpa, her pet crocodile is seated at the table and is getting a much bigger dinner than Grandpa. When she sits in her rocking chair, a parrot is shown looking over her shoulder.

      Although the story of Pirate Gran is light-hearted and entertaining, it could lead to discussions about stereotypes. Stories that promote both genders in powerful roles are always a welcome addition to a library collection.

      The author, Geraldine Durrant, is a grandmother, herself, and her short story about Pirate Gran won an award in Britain. Durrant was then commissioned to write a book based on the story in 2008. A sequel entitled Pirate Gran Goes for Gold was published in 2010.


Claire Perrin is an elementary teacher-librarian with the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, ON.

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

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