Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Hoppey, Tim. Pedro the Pirate. Illus. Dianna Bonder. McHenry: Raven Tree Press, 2012. ISBN# 978-1-936299-18-8. $16.95. Author’s suggested audience: Pre-K to 3rd Grade.

Pedro, the cabin boy on a pirate ship, dreams of becoming a real pirate like Captain Crossbones and finding treasure. Pedro he finds a locket on the rocks and takes it. A mermaid named Elena approaches Pedro and she asks him how he can take what doesn’t belong to him. Indifferent to her comments, Pedro casts a net to catch Elena. Captain Crossbones and Pedro kidnap Elena and hold her for a ransom of gold from the other mermaids. Pedro feels guilty about stealing and kidnapping. When he opens the locket, he learns that the locket is of special significance to Elena. The next day, when the mermaids bring the gold as ransom for their friend, deceitful Captain Crossbones keeps the both the gold and Elena. Pedro talks Captain Crossbones into releasing her. Later, Pedro sneaks into the captain’s quarters and takes the key to the pirate’s treasure chest. Pedro returns the locket to the rocks where he found it. He also leaves all of the mermaids’ gold there too. Pedro tells Elena he now knows he doesn’t want to be a pirate and he vows never to steal anything again.

This picture book includes valuable lessons and is enjoyable to read. Themes of action, adventure, value, and virtue follow Pedro through his decision-making about becoming a pirate. The powerful lessons about right and wrong taught by the story are do not steal, people can change their mind and do the right thing, and that things that have gone wrong can be made right again.

This is not a bilingual book but it does include creative elements of bilingualism that add to the quality of the book. The parrot character plays a significant translator role in the story. That is, he repeats what is said but in the opposite language. On page eight, the captain shouts, “Arrgh, treasure!” and the parrot squawks, “¡Arrgh, tesoro!” Tesoro is the Spanish translation of treasure. The translations not translated by the parrot are easy to connect to the English text because the Spanish text immediately follows the English. On page three, sailors scream “The pirate! ¡El pirata!” Pirata is the Spanish translation of pirate. The words pirate and pirata look alike and make it easy for the readers to make a connection, and these words are cognates.

Even though Pedro’s serious dilemma about right and wrong lends a serious tone to the story, there is humor in the interactions of the bilingual parrot, bilingual Pedro, and Captain Crossbones, who only speaks English and doesn’t understand what the parrot is saying. Crossbones says repeatedly “Quiet, parrot!” and the parrot always replies “¡Silencio, loro!” basically repeating what the captain just said, only in Spanish. Crossbones can’t understand what the parrot is saying, but the reader can, and this is very funny and enjoyable.

The story is mostly written in English, but there are nine words and phrases in Spanish in the book and the translations given to Spanish are accurate. The book includes a glossary of Spanish and English vocabulary words used in the story at the back. The text is color coded, with English text in black and Spanish text in red so the Spanish is easy to identify. Oddly, some words and phrases are not included in the glossary and these might be difficult for the target audience to understand. These are words and phrases that the target audience may not have been exposed to yet or are not commonly used in their everyday communication. The words boasted, glistened, beamed, and plunked do not appear in the glossary. The two phrases not included in the glossary that may be unfamiliar to readers are, “What the blazes did you just say?” and “Let’s have her walk the plank and be done with her.”

There are big, colorful and fun two- page spread illustrations of the ocean and of pirates. Characters’ facial expressions are very vivid. Inside of the front and back cover are illustrations of a historical nautical map that depicts ships, gold, a compass, and route markings. Text on these pages is placed within boxes, visible and clear.

On some pages, where the image does not fill the two-page spread, there is a blue border, with the text to one side. The border on the side where the text is appears much thicker and looks like water splashing into the image, which adds a nice touch since the story takes place in the ocean.

This book is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Diana Derner

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