Pirate School series by Jeremy Strong 

Henry really does like pirate books so this series by Jeremy strong is a winner with him.

There are 5 books in the series and so far we have read 4 of them. 

Patagonia Clatterbottom is the headmistress of the Pirate School where Smudge, Flo, Ziggy and Corkella are pupils. Each of the books deals with the adventures and mishaps that the pupils and teachers get up to. As usual with Jeremy Strong books, the events are silly and funny and often make Henry laugh out loud. 

These are early reader books and have colour illustrations and short chapters – we easily read two a night. 

They are great for sharing with Henry at bedtime and he especially loves it every time we have to say ‘Clatterbottom’ ! 

Captain Firebeard’s School for Pirates by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Anna Chernyshova 

Whilst browsing the library shelves for books to read with Pippa at bedtime, we came across Captain Firbeard’s School for pirates. It is an early chapter book and has a very ‘orange’ cover which caught Pippa’s eye as it’s her favourite colour. I read the blurb and she liked the sound of it. 

It is an entertaining story about a boy called Tommy who starts at the best pirate school there is – Captain Firebeard’s. it follows his first term and the lessons he has in how to be a pirate. Like most school based stories he makes a few friends and there  is a rival gang of ‘baddies’ who want to cause mischief for Tommy. The story features treasure hunts, secret codes, whirlpools and all kinds of piratey stuff with plenty of opportunities to say aaaaarrrrr! 

There are orange, black and white illustrations on most pages, some are just text but are usually followed by ones with lots of pictures. The chapters are around 20 pages long so we usually only read one per night. 

Pippa’s best part of the book was when it said ‘poop deck’ – cue hilarious giggles! She said her favourite character was Tommy because she liked that he had a parrot called McBeaky. She also liked Captain Firebeard because he had a big orange beard and is funny. 

This is currently the only book about Tommy and Firebeard’s pirate school, I don’t know if there will be any more but we really enjoyed this one so hopefully there will be more adventures in the future.  Definitely a great bedtime read for pirate fans or those who like adventures or school based stories. 

The Indoor Pirates/The Indoor Pirates on Treasure Island by Jeremy Strong, Illustrated by Nick Sharratt

This is the first book I am reviewing that I didn’t actually read myself. Instead, husband Tim read it with Henry at bedtimes. I asked them both to describe the book and give me their views which follow shortly.

Jeremy Strong has written many books for children which are often very funny. I have previously shared some of his very early chapter books with Henry (review to follow soon!) but this was the first of his slightly longer chapter books. The copy we borrowed from the library contained both the original ‘Indoor Pirates’ story as well as ‘The Indoor Pirates on Treasure Island’.

It is a chapter books with chapters that are fine to read one each bedtime. On lots of the pages are brilliantly comical illustrations by Nick Sharratt.

Henry’s comments:

‘They are called the Indoor Pirates because they live indoors because they don’t like water. They think that no one else thinks they are pirates even though they all know really! They get up to all sorts of adventures but are not very clever pirates so not everything works.’

He described the characters as follows:

‘Captain Blackpatch has patches on his arm; Bald Ben doesn’t have any hair; the twins, Polly and Molly always argue; Lumpy Lawson does all the cooking because he is better than the other pirates.’

I asked both Henry and Daddy who their favourite characters were and they said:

Henry: The twins because they are happy at the end of the story.

Daddy: Captain Blackpatch because he always gets cross with the twins when they are arguing (he said it sounds familiar!!)

Whenever Tim and Henry were reading these books, there was always lots of belly laughs coming from Henry’s room, he really seemed to love all the mischief the pirates got up to. Tim said he really enjoyed sharing them with Henry too.

So based on Tim and Henry’s opinions, I would say these books are definitely a great bedtime reading choice and we will be looking for more of Jeremy Strong’s books.

Dixie O’Day – The Great Diamond Robbery by Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy

This is the second of the Dixie O’Day books that I have read with Pippa at bedtime (see earlier review of ‘In the Fast Lane’). Dixie O’Day: In the Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy 

Once again it is an early chapter book for developing readers with lots of illustrations on every page. The characters of Dixie and Percy are very appealing depicted and Pippa loved looking at the little details in the pictures as we read.

In this story, our hero Dixie, accompanied by his sidekick Percy, take a little holiday to the seaside, where instead of relaxing, become heroes and also investigate a robbery in their hotel.

It is an appealing story which evolves at a good pace. We usually read one or two chapters at each bedtime and we were both keen to read each night to find out what adventures Dixie and Percy would have.

Pippa said she liked it when they helped the man (when they became heroes) and how they found the treasure. She liked the characters again and the book is a really good length to retain her interest.

Once again, we would definitely recommend this Dixie O’Day story.

Astrosaurs Academy series by Steve Cole 

It’s been a busy week but Henry and I have this week finished another of the ‘Astrosaurs Academy’ books by Steve Cole. 

 This series of books follows the adventures of young dinosaur Teggs Stegosaur and his friends as they train to be Astrosaurs at the Astrosaurs Academy. Exactly as it sounds, an Astrosaur is an astronaut dinosaur who protects the rest of the dinosaur world! Teggs and his friends have to outwit T-Rexs and other meat eaters, uncover saboteurs and protect their planet from all manner of other mayhem. 

They are chapter books but still with some illustrations on each page. The chapters vary in length according to the book so we read different amounts at each bedtime. 

The most recent book in the series that we read was called ‘Volcano Invaders’ and in this story Teggs and his gang had to defeat a very different enemy whilst trying to avoid being swallowed up by an erupting volcano! This book had some longer chapters, and most end up on mini cliffhanger moments which makes it easy to build up suspense and excitement for the next bedtime reading. 

The dinosaurs have lots of gadgets and Henry really liked how the volcano ended up being more than it seemed.  He said he likes Commander Gruff because he helps rescue the Astrosaurs but his favourite characters are the Daring Dinos (Teggs and his 2 closest friends) because they have the special motto: ‘Do we dare? (Put hands together) WE DARE!’ He really likes joining in with this every time it occurs in the books! 

Henry loves dinosaurs and is also interested in things to do with space so these books are perfect for him for bedtime stories. They are a lot of fun and easy to read and I have to admit to really enjoying them too! 

Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett

This is one of Pippa’s all time favourite picture books and one of the first she proudly told us she could ‘read’ by herself. As the title suggests it is a story about a monkey (a toy one) who along with his owner, a little girl, go and visit a range of animals at the zoo. 

Emily Gravett has written a wonderful repeating text which is very easy for even very young children to pick up on. On each of the pages the little girl’s actions give a clue to which animal they will see next. This is lovely for children to guess what is coming next and Pippa certainly enjoys doing so even though we have read the book many times. It is also lots of fun to make the same shapes as the little girl does, although this does not always lend its self to a calm bedtime read! 

The illustrations are very appealing and the little girl and her monkey are lovely characters. We have been reading this book for a long time with Pippa and, even though she is now able to read it herself, she still very much enjoys having it read to her at bedtime. 

I said it is one of her favourites, her reason why – because she says it is just like her and her toy Monk 🙂 

Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam: Up, Up and Away by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton

Pippa and I really enjoyed the first Shifty and Sam book and I spotted the second chapter book on the ‘New Books’ shelf in the library just before we finished the first one, so immediately picked it up! 

Once again the book follows the adventures of the baking, mystery solving duo of dogs – Shifty and Sam. This particular book contains 3 stories – the title story plus two others. Once again each story is split in to 4 chapters and we read at least 2 per night. The fabulous illustrations by Steven Lenton are again in 3 colours (greeny/blue as the main colour this time rather than orange in the previous book) and really add detail to the story – Pippa found some of the images very funny! 

Pippa said she liked this book just as much as the first one and that her favourite story was the first one – Up, up and away as she liked the race in it and the fact Red Rocket (the ‘baddy’) couldn’t get them (spoiler!) as they flew away. She really likes all the gadgets the bakemobile has and was telling Henry about them the next day. 

We borrowed both of these books from the library and they have been bedtime reading hits with Pippa. Both are now on her Amazon wish list and as well as us reading them again to her, I can see that as she progresses with her reading skills, I am sure she will thoroughly enjoy reading them again for herself. 

A few days ago, just before starting to write this this review, I was able to give Pippa some very exciting news – Steven Lenton posted a picture on Twitter of a book cover: Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam, Jingle Bells!  Out this winter! 

Guess what Pippa has already asked to be put on her Christmas list…