The Night Pirates at The York Literature Festival

When I told my bigger boy that I’d enrolled him in pirate school he was thrilled and couldn’t wait to go. An event put on by the York Literature Festival, this was actually an interactive theatre class as part of the York Literature Festival. Run by Hoglets, a York based theatre and story telling class for young children and based on The Night Pirates by Peter Harris, illustrated by Deborah Allwright.


Published by Egmont UK Ltd, this is a magical nighttime tale of a gang of girl pirates. They creep about the town after dark and pinch the front of a house to use as a disguise for their ship. The house belongs Tom, the only person who spots them. Excited by the potential of adventure he asks to join them on their voyage and of they sail, the little girl pirates and Tom.  They make their way to an island where some big, grown up pirates are asleep, guarding their treasure. Is the ship disguised as a house enough to fool them and will this band of mini pirates be able to steal away with the treasure?

This story has a beautiful rhythm to it with plenty of repetition and text that jumps and sails through the pages. On one page the whole orientation of the book changes, breaking the rules just like the pirates.


The illustrations are wonderful, set against the backdrop of the most amazing deep blues and purples of the night sky. Books set at nighttime when everyone is asleep have such an enchanting quality to them, it’s a time when anything can happen.

The story is full of excitement and we are behind the little girl pirates and Tom all the way. My boy loves the part when the grown up pirates give chase and the captain threatens to tell his mum!

The end papers are an old treasure map illustration, a lovely talking point that will fire up imagiimaginations.  My bigger boy likes to follow the trail around the rocks and islands, looking for the x marks the spot and making up stories about where the ship.


It was brilliant to see this piece of children’s literature come to life in our class. Gemma from Hoglets told the tale to a group of completely engrossed children before getting everyone involved in some pirate activities. We sang pirate songs, made our own telescopes, rode a hot air balloon to the sea to catch our ship, learnt different pirate actions and fought off sea monsters. My boy’s favourite bit was pretending to be a cannon, crouching down on the floor hissing before jumping up and shouting, “Bang!”

Here’s his telescope, being put to use on his own pirate ship!


We had a great time and are now fully fledged members of the pirate crew. So wonderful to see how inspiring a children’s book can be.

You can read more about Hoglets and their baby and toddler classes here…

You can find out more details about The York Literature Festival on their website here…

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