The Pirate Tree by Brigita Orel, illustrated by Jennie Poh. Lantana, 9781911373872, 2019
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? Everything! This is such an important book for children to read because of the message — you can be friends with someone who does not look like you. In this story, Sam is “sailing” her ship (actually a gnarled tree near her home). A young boy named Agu approaches and wants to join in the fun but Sam is apprehensive because Agu is not from her street. Agu has experienced this type of rejection before but remembers that his grandmother has told him to be patient when this happens. Sam continues to act out pirate adventures by sailing warm south seas, stealing from cargo ships, and robbing diamonds in Nigeria. That gets the attention of Agu who informs Sam that there are no diamonds in Nigeria — he should know because that is his home country. This now gets Sam’s attention and she becomes even more interested in Agu once he informs her that he has sailed on a real ship. Now the pirate play begins with the two children (of different races and genders) enjoying an imaginative day at sea. They day ends with an understanding that there are more seas to explore and this exploring will be done together.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing.
To whom would you recommend this book? This is perfect for children between the ages of three and six. Younger children will simply enjoy the pirate play between two kids, but older children can learn a valuable lesson about opening up to new friendships. It is a great book to open up conversations about children of different races and genders.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary libraries, preschools, daycares, and nursery schools, anyone that works with children between the ages of three and six.
Where would you shelve it? Picture books.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes — I am new to Lantana Publishing but their site states that they feature diverse and inclusive books — something to keep in mind. The jacket of this book states that “Because all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read.”
Reviewer Kristin Guay, Nantucket, Massachusetts
Date of review: June 17, 2019