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Jake Jellicoe and the Dread Pirate Redbeard by Joanna Nadin is a beautifully silly piratical adventure story in which the starved and down trodden Jake Jellicoe leaves home to seek his fortune on the day he finds out his new baby brother or sister will have to be sold, just to keep the family in thin, grey gruel.

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Jake’s grandfather, who lost his fortune after it was stolen by a pirate, who also killed his famous Hebrew speaking halibut, is the only one who knows about Jake’s plan, and gives him a lucky gold coin, all that is left of his fortune, to see him on his way.

Jake goes to the nearest town to find a job and signs up as cabin boy aboard the Flounder, under Captain Dreadnaught.  Captain Dreadnaught turns out to have a terrible secret which turns Jake’s life around and leads him straight into the path of the most extraordinary adventure.

This is a great chapter or transitional book for children aged between 7 and 10. Clearly aimed at boys, with a strong cast of male characters and a traditionally ‘male’ theme of pirates, it is actually great fun for boys or girls.

The chapters are short and the illustrations, although in black and white, add a lot to the book, and help the plot to zip along.

Perfect if you’re doing a pirates topic as a guided reading or story book for a half term.  Great for newly confident readers or older readers who want something manageable they can easily read for themselves.

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