Review: The Pirates are Coming

Book Title: The Pirates are Coming (available here)

Author: John Condon

Illustrator: Matt Hunt

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication Date: February 2020

Most Suitable For: EYFS & KS1

Reviewed By: Jenny Holder

Every day Tom climbs to the top of a high hill and looks for pirate ships so that he can tell the villagers to go into hiding. The problem is that he keeps ringing his bell and shouting “PIRATES!” - but the vessels turn out not to be pirate ships. The villagers start to get tired of hiding, but what happens when one day a real pirate ship does arrive?

The Pirates are Coming is a fun new retelling of Aesop’s fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The repeated phrases with their implied actions and vocal expression means that this is a fun book to read with young children. My young daughter loved reading along and using appropriate expressions each time Tom told the village that the pirates were coming!

Matt Hunt’s lively and vibrant illustrations add an extra splash of humour into the book. The inventive ways in which the villagers hide are particularly funny. His artwork also expresses the emotions of the characters beautifully. This would provide great stimulus for drama work focusing on how the different residents of the town feel: re-enacting, hotseating, freeze-frames etc.

This would be a fun story to read following a traditional tale topic. It would be great to read both this and the original Aesop fable with a Key Stage 1 class and to identify the similarities and differences. Is Tom lying like the boy in the original story? Is the moral of this story the same as in The Boy Who Cried Wolf? The twist at the end of the book is a great surprise but also allows for PHSE discussions surrounding stereotypes.

The Pirates are Coming is a vibrant and fresh approach towards an old favourite. Fantastic for both story time-sharing and to be the focus of a sequence of English lessons.


You can order The Pirates are Coming online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jenny for reviewing it.

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