We borrowed Pirates Ahoy! by Simon Abbott a few weeks ago from the library. It’s part of The Wonderful World of Simon Abbott series and is a non-fiction book published by Tick Tock Books, part of Octopus Publishing Group.
Inspired by an article I read the other day from Playing By The Book, I decided I needed to get some non-fiction reviews up. The article included an interview with author Andy Seed who has written, among other things, award-winning non-fiction books for children. You can read the article and interview here:
It really got me thinking about how important non-fiction books are for children, especially to reluctant readers. I’ve worked in schools where I’ve seen a child’s choice of favourite book shot down because it wasn’t fiction. It may not always be the case but reluctant readers often find something they like in a non-fiction book so they should be encouraged to keep reading them and supported to find more books like it that interest them.
My bigger boy is only 3 so can’t read by himself yet, he loves fiction books being read to him but he also asks hundreds of questions about a wide range of topics. In the interview, Andy Seed talks about the beliefs held by some that the internet has made non-fiction books redundant.
A lot of the time, internet searches are just not the place to go for the answers, the information they bring back is too vast, too complicated or sometimes not appropriate at all. This is another point covered by Andy Seed in the interview above.
The difficulty I have in finding a good non-fiction book for my boy is finding one that is accessible for a three year old. Our library has a selection of non-fiction but it isn’t huge and a lot of the books are aimed at older readers.
Pirates Ahoy! was perfect, the illustrations are friendly and cartoon-like in big, bold colours and it is full of lots of facts about pirates that aren’t too complicated for my three year old to understand. There is a lot of information packed into this book, I think it answers nearly all the questions that I am constantly asked about pirates! Each double page covers a different pirate topic – crew, ships, pirate jobs, pirate parties, food to name a few. There is also a “Fun Facts” column on each page that tells you even more.
For a child who has started reading, there are key words in each section of text that are printed in bold to make it easy to pick out particular bits of information. There is also just enough yucky facts to keep a little one entertained but without being too gory or terrifying.
My boy’s favourite facts from this book are:
- There were no toilets on pirate ships, they sat on a board with a hole in it that they held over the side.
- Pirates cut the bottoms off their trousers to stop them getting wet (something he always remembers when dressing up)
- Pirates poo was black and their wee was green because they ate turtles.
We were a bit disappointed to find out that pirates didn’t really make people walk the plank, however, this revelation has not stopped us playing walk the plank when we play pirates!
At the end, there is a list of words that pirates used to describe various things so you can even learn how to talk like a pirate from this book too.
A great feature of this book is that it’s printed on really thick, sturdy paper which make it easy for little hands to turn the pages quickly and find the information they want.
A nice feature of the book is a little illustration of a spider, called Bob, who appears on every page. A good way of getting the reader to scan every page while they look for Bob as they may also find something else of interest in the illustrations.
A great picture book, full of facts and fun illustrations that tell you as much about pirates as the text. There are more books in the collection from Simon Abbott and you can find extra information about them to download here:
You can see more of Simon Abbott’s work here: