Saturday, 29 March 2008


Pirates John Matthews, Carlton, 2006, 28 pages, hardback, NZ$34.99
ISBN 1-84442-266-6

Pirates Rogues Gallery John Matthews, Carlton, 2007, 26 pages, hardback, NZ$29.99
ISBN 1-84442-592-1

Pirates is not a long book but many of its stiff pages carry fold-outs, mini-books and reprints of letters, posters and playing cards. There is even a concealed map of Jamaica’s Hidden Treasures, giving young readers the feeling of opening their own treasure chest.

John Matthews’s sensible and well-written text winds amongst colourful illustrations of pirate flags, weapons, ships and loot. Along with the Timeline and Nautical Glossary (Abaft to Yardarm), there is a quick summary of fictional pirates, which allows Jack Sparrow and Long John Silver to make their appearance.

The sequel, Pirates Rogue’s Gallery uses the same format to provide brief ,lavishly illustrated accounts of such seagoing rogues as Blackbeard, William Kidd, Jean Bart and Henry Morgan Also present is a woman pirate, Charlotte de Berry.

Both books are well-researched and offer an exciting introduction to both the unromantic reality and the popular fantasy of life as a swashbuckling buccaneer.

This review by Trevor Agnew first appeared in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand on 30th June 2007.

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