Monday, October 10, 2011

The Pirate Captain's Daughter

Title: The Pirate Captain’s Daughter
Category: Adventure, Historical
Grades: 7-10
Author: Eve Bunting
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Date: 2011
Pages: 201

When her mother dies, fifteen-year-old Catherine yearns to join her father at sea, where he captains the pirate vessel, Reprisal.  Reluctantly, he allows her to disguise herself as a boy, but Catherine soon learns to her disappointment that her father’s life is nothing like the romance and adventure she envisioned.  A pirate must be brutal and bloody if necessary… even to his own children.  As Catherine dodges discovery and tries to help her father keep control in the face of sabotage and possible mutiny, she begins to wish she’d never come on board.  Except there is William, with his eyes like the sea, and the mysterious Burmese Sunrise jewel that several of the pirates would kill to find.  Every day is fraught with peril, and the certain knowledge that if Catherine is discovered, it will mean not only her own death, but her father’s as well.

Eve Bunting is well-known as a picture book author who writes with substance and sensitivity, frequently touching important issues of diversity and social concern in ways children can easily relate to and understand.  Unfortunately, this particular foray into the world of novels leaves much to be desired.  The premise is weak and the plot is weaker.  Catherine quickly learns the life of a pirate is not for her, but has no way off the ship.  Discovery is swift and inevitable.  Nothing is resolved, and the reader is left wondering what the purpose of the book really was.  While the characters are well-developed, and the author has obviously researched the topic, the question of “so what?” is never really answered, making this read tedious and meandering.  Bunting is capable of much better.


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