The Pirate’s Bed by N. Winstanley
Winstanley, Nicola. The Pirate’s Bed. Illustrated by Matt James. Tundra Books, 2015.
Nicola Winstanley has produced a tale both whimsical and original in this picture book for children of kindergarten and primary school age. In brief, her story details the adventures of a seafaring bed that, by means of a shipwreck, escapes its obligations to a smelly footed pirate, washes ashore, and becomes the treasured hand-me-down of generations of landlubbers.
Her story is strongly supported by Matt James’ boldly coloured, graphically descriptive, and humorous illustrations. There is an appealing, childlike quality to his various depictions: a bearded and gap-toothed pirate who sleeps with his teddy bear; waves that reach up with evil fingers to spill the pirates out of their ship; playful dolphins and a helpful gull who guide the bed through the waves. Observant children will notice, as well, that the bed is able to frown and smile as events unfold. The artist’s work would both engage and enrich the imaginations of most five-to-eight year olds.
While Winstanley’s brevity of sentence length and simplicity of syntax are suited to the listening skills of most children in this age group, generally, only the older ones would have the reading skills necessary to handle such text as follows:
“When the bed had lived on the ship, the nights had been full of the bright richness of the pirate’s life and imagination. Now nighttime was long and dark and empty….The bed floated, unencumbered, and wished for the weight of a sleeper” [p.20].
Younger children would most fully appreciate the book in the context of a story hour or bedtime reading.
Editor’s note: This book was also reviewed by students from the Child Study Centre’s Junior Kindergarten Program in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta in Vol 6, No 2 (2016) of the Deakin (http://dx.doi.org/10.20361/G2WP5H).
Reviewer: Leslie Aitken
Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Leslie Aitken’s long career in librarianship involved selection of children’s literature for school, public, special, and university collections. She is a former Curriculum Librarian at the University of Alberta.
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