There are lots of advantages to having a 9-year-old grandson who loves reading and is fascinated by Scottish history. One of the lesser amongst them is that when you are called upon to review a book like "Pirate Tales from Scotland" by Antony Kamm, you can pass it to your grandson to see what he thinks of it. Alistair loved it, and we can easily see why.
The blurb on the rear cover says: "Here are true pirate tales of barbaric acts, sensational trials, bravery and cowardice, loyalty and treachery - and amazing incompetence! - with extracts from original sources. Famous pirates from fiction are here too. Are you feeling brave? Then read on..." The publisher's blurb reads: "Tales of pirates, whether in fact or fiction, have long excited young imaginations. The pirate stories here all have a Scottish connection. The title is part of the Scotties series of activity books for young readers and includes an 8pp black and white section of activities which are photocopiable for home or classroom use."
You should never judge a book by its cover - or so they say. The truth is that "Pirate Tales from Scotland" is given a huge head start by its bright and attractive cover. Flicking through the book quickly reveals that the quality of the illustration is very high throughout. It also reveals that there is a nice balance between illustration and written content. It's certainly attractive enough to draw young readers in, but having done so, there's quite a lot of actual content here to inform and entertain them.
The books is arranged thematically. We read about raiders; hijackers and mutineers; and kidnappers. We are then led through the fine distinction between privateers and pirates, complete with the story of the man who inspired the character of Robinson Crusoe. American naval hero John Paul Jones is also covered. A chapter about the golden age of Scottish pirates is followed by sections about pirate hunters, pirate doctors, and so on. There is even a section about modern piracy in Scottish waters.