As this terrible tale of Captain Purplebeard’s greed and misadventure upon the high seas unfolds, the real revelation is that this tale is all about trickery and deception… and not by the pirates!!
“My dear fellow pirate,” this tale begins, “Do ye want to be RICH? To get treasure beyond yer wildest dreams – to find nuggets of gold as big as ships’ beams? And diamonds and rubies the size of yer eyes! Just follow this map (please see reverse) to claim yer prize.* From a friend x x x (*conditions apply)…” and conditions there certainly are!
As an unfamiliar fiddler wends his way through the quiet streets of Port Royal, pirates are lurking in darkened doorways hold this letter in their greedy hands, reading this ode to treasures and riches. By the time the fiddler appears, singing his shanty song of “an island of gold in the scurvy sea”, Captain Purplebeard (who is downing a hearty ale at the Thirsty Parrot Inn) is all ears and ready to call his men to action.
And so it is that Purplebeard and his band of toothless, weedy and greedy pirates take to the seas before dawn to follow the fiddler’s map and tune to seek out their fortune.
On each spread, comic strip-style speech bubbles reveal each pirate’s unique angle on the forthcoming frolics, giving plenty of opportunity for some home-grown thespian characterisations to bring this tale to life.
Unwinding in quite the storybook-meets-comic-book style (perhaps influenced by Duddle’s experience as an illustrator for animation films…), this tale is visually, linguistically and conceptually exciting
A first reading of this book is a magical romp into the realm of the pirate underworld, but it is the third and fourth readings that really deliver the excitement of this many layered tale… There is, after all, the puppet strings in the opening spreads that seem as obvious as anything after a few readings, but until they were pointed out, I overlooked them altogether. However, once you realise the nature of the fiddler who is leading the pirate sailors on their merry way, the entire tale takes on a far more sinister, yet playful tone.
Illustrator Profile Jonny Duddle lives in North Wales with his wife and young family. When he is not exploring forests and scrumping apples he is found sprawled across his studio floor, drawing and busily inventing worlds. Having worked on a pirate ship (climbing up and down riggings), and as an art teacher in the middle of the Kalahari Dessert, it is no wonder that his work spans an exciting selection of projects including his own picture books The Pirate-Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door (Templar) as well as animation characters for Aardman as well as computer games.