________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 28 . . . . March 27, 2015


The Pirate's Bed.

Nicola Winstanley. Illustrated by Matt James.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-616-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-618-7 (ebook).

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Chasity Findlay.

*** /4



A great storm came up at sea.

The pirate ship pitched and rolled. With every rising wave, the pirate's bed slid across the cabin floor and back again as the wave came down.

Every downward swoosh was faster and deeper than the one before.

The bed skittered across the floor, afraid. But the pirate slept on, rocked like a baby in a cradle.

Tundra Books' new picture book takes readers on a journey with a pirate's bed, adrift on the sea. The book begins with a raging storm which tosses and turns a pirate ship with each crashing wave. The experienced pirate, used to treacherous conditions, is fast asleep in his bed. The bed, however, is wide awake and knows that this storm is unlike any other. With the next crashing wave, the boat capsizes, sending both the pirate and his bed into the ocean. The pirate washes up safely on an island whereas the bed is swept out to sea, all alone. As it floats along the ocean, the bed encounters various sea creatures, but it still cannot help but feel like something is missing.

      Author Nicola Winstanley personifies the pirate's bed in this tale to communicate the feelings of loneliness it experienced when it did not have a sleeper to share its nights with. This book would be a great read for children who are having trouble sleeping in their beds or going to sleep at bedtime. The predominant message conveyed by the text is that bedtime can be a comfortable experience filled with pleasant dreams. I think that children who enjoy reading this book will be likely to have positive experiences with bedtime and sleeping in the future.

      The Pirate's Bed introduces several vocabulary words that children will need to discuss with the adults in their lives. Words such as "raucous", "cutlass", "preen", and "unencumbered" will be unfamiliar to the majority of readers in the target audience. Although I think that including new words in picture books can be helpful in developing vocabulary, I think that The Pirate's Bed may have introduced a few too many, with the level of difficulty of some of these words being a tad too high.

      Matt James' illustrations, rendered in India ink and acrylic paint, perfectly complement the written text. The text, equal parts lighthearted and intense at different points, pairs well with the colours used on each page. For the scary and sad parts of the text, darker blues, browns, and blacks are utilized, and when the text is cheery, lighter blues are paired with bright reds, greens, and yellows. These colour choices are effective in conveying the mood of each section of text.

      James added some unique details to his artwork that perceptive readers will notice. The bed has eyes and a mouth which add to the human-like qualities being conveyed in the written text. The mouth appears to change expressions from smiling to sad for corresponding events that it experiences. The waves are also shown as hands that toss the boat and its contents around the ocean.

      The Pirate's Bed includes some additional material that readers will enjoy. The reverse side of the dust jacket is a poster which features one of the scenes in the book where a young boy is dreaming of being a pirate at sea. The reverse side of the dust jacket also includes a list of five light-hearted "Tips for a Happy Bed".

      The Pirate's Bed touches on the pleasant experiences associated with bedtime and encourages readers to think of the comforts that can be found in their own beds. This heartwarming tale is likely to soothe children off to bed with vivid dreams of snoring pirates, tropical islands, and rolling waves.


Chasity Findlay is a high school English teacher and a graduate student at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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