“A read-aloud delight! Perfect rhymes and enthralling illustrations tell this original pirate’s tale that touts the joy of reading.”
Nell joins a swarthy canine crew with grand visions for her pirate’s life—informed by the many tales of adventures she’s read and with her trusty Pirate’s Almanac in tow—but soon discovers that while the rest of the crew loves her stories, Captain Gnash heartily disapproves, and she is stuck with the scut work. That is, until the power of a wish brings Nell a treasure map, and her goodness and bravery compel her to rescue the greedy captain and seize the ship’s helm to steer the crew and penitent captain to safety, buoyed by her Almanac knowledge. A brilliant twist around the treasure’s contents sets up an ending that is equal parts fun and original—a floating library! All the classic elements of a terrific pirate story—adventure, peril, heroism and a treasure worth seeking—are present in spades, and all originate with the unassuming newcomer Nell. Helen’s superb rhyming (cadence, originality and perfect rhyme) and Thomas’ signature illustration style are a perfect marriage, resulting in an utterly enjoyable read aloud. Details in the illustrations, such as Captain Gnash’s figurehead at the ship’s bow (and its ensuing upgrade), underwater scenes, and miniature Almanac pages, give readers opportunities to make some of their own discoveries within the book’s pages, and the message simply can’t be beat—books are a treasure unto themselves.
From the author/illustrator team behind The Snatchabook comes a book-filled adventure on the high seas!
Nell is finally a pirate!
And she has her trusty Pirate’s Almanac to help her sail the seas, even if Captain Gnash doesn’t like books on his ship. But when the journey gets rough and the captain is in trouble, it’s Nell and all her pirate knowledge that saves the day and leads them to the greatest buried treasure of all…
SUCH a fun read aloud—amazing cadence, fun illustrations, plenty adventure and a lovely focus on books!
I was born and grew up in a small town called Weymouth, on the south coast of England. My family was from Wales, and I inherited from them a love of stories. As a child, I spent most of my time either reading or writing. From an early age I started making books (and even a monthly magazine for witches) with my own stories and pictures in them. I took this very seriously, and was quite determined that I would be an author when I grew up. All I needed to keep me happy was a pile of books to read (I was a regular visitor to our local library), some blank paper, a pencil and some felt tip pens that hadn’t run out. In the end, I didn’t become an author – at least, not straight away. I went to Newcastle University in the north of England to study French and Spanish, and in between being a student there I spent time in France, Spain and Cuba, where I learned to dance salsa and once queued for 4 hours for an ice-cream. After graduating, I trained as a secondary school teacher and headed out to Mexico City with an open ticket and no job. Luckily, I found a job teaching French in an International school, and I ended up staying in Mexico for four years, before returning to the UK to do a Masters in Film and Television Production at Bristol University. After a lot of fun helping young people in Bristol make films (but not making much money), I returned to teaching for a few years, working with refugees and asylum seekers and then teaching Spanish at the University of the West of England. During this time, I met Thomas Docherty, who had recently started illustrating his own books. It was Tom who encouraged me to start writing stories again, and we co-wrote the book Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure (Templar, 2010). In the summer of 2011 I wrote my first ever rhyming story, The Snatchabook (Alison Green Books, 2013). Tom and I got married in 2008 and we now live in Swansea, Wales, with our two daughters and a cat called Cadi. Looking back, I’m glad that I ended up learning languages, living abroad and working for many years as a teacher… before I finally became an author! Nowadays, I love going into schools to tell my stories to children and inspire them to write stories of their own. Working with Thomas Docherty through Storyopolis, I’ve helped lots of children in Swansea create their very own Book in a Day. You can read some of their fantastic stories by following this link to my Storyopolis page. (Bio via helendocherty.com)
When I was at school I never imagined I would end up writing stories. my spelling was terrible and I found reading really difficult, because I’m dyslexic. Luckily my mum and dad read to me and took me to the library where I spent hours looking at picture books. I had always liked drawing and so I began keeping a sketchbook diary, especially if I travelled anywhere new and it was these diaries that inspired my first picture books. Now whenever possible, I like going along to schools and libraries to talk to children about my work and help them write and draw their own stories. My books have been selected for many awards including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. I live in Swansea with wife Helen and our two daughters. Helen is also a children’s book author and together we created the award-winning picture book The Snatchabook.
What inspired Helen to write this story?
I had been wanting to write a book about pirates for a long time – I grew up on the coast and we live by the sea now, so it’s in my blood. Tom (Thomas Docherty) loves drawing the sea and all kinds of sea creatures, so I wrote this story for him to illustrate.
The character of Nell was first inspired by a small cat I spotted on a sea wall; she became a dog later on. I wanted to create a heroine who was fearless but also kind; and of course, a book lover. Captain Gnash – who is greedy, mean and ignorant (but full of his own importance) at the beginning of the story – was inspired by the kind of person who often seems to become top dog these days. Fortunately, in the story at least, Captain Gnash learns the error of his ways!