Not all of us were the child that paid attention in class. Some would look out of the window and let their minds wander. Why be stuck in a stuffy room when you could be in space or on the high seas? Sometimes you do not need to seek adventure as it may just find you. It makes perfect sense to me that if the teacher leaves the classroom there is ample time for a pirate to enter and ask all the children to help him find some lost treasure. Who could possibly give up this opportunity?
In Ms Bitsy, the children of Classroom 3 have a strict, but upstanding teacher. However, once she leaves the room it is open season. Rather than cause havoc themselves, they instead meet a pirate named Captain Calamity who has a map to some buried treasure hidden somewhere in the classroom. Can the children, with the aid of the Captain, find the loot before the mischievous Pirate Bloodloss gets it first?
There is a definite charm to ‘‘Pirates in Classroom 3’’ by Alison Donald and Ben Whitehouse and it is down to the book’s sweet nature. This is a world in which a pirate can enter a classroom and rather than scream their heads off, the kids decide to help find the treasure. What entails is an adventure that blurs the reality of the classroom with some imagination. Do you really know what is under your classroom floor? For some people it may be another classroom, but for others it could be a hidden beach.
Donald provides several flights of fancy, but is all a little haphazard; a lot of different things happening to a bunch of kids in a short space of time. There is a lack of defined structure to the book and the characters feel like they are going nowhere; physically or narratively. You get the sense that it is just meant to be a bit of fun with some pirates. This is a reasonable thing for a child to enjoy, but it does not have the story to keep all kids coming back over and over again. What is nice are the little hidden asides, like the relationship between Ms Bitsy and Captain Calamity. Their blossoming romance will be lost on kids, but does give adults something to smile about.
Whitehouse’s illustrations do a good job of bringing colour and fun to proceedings. Each double spread is packed with bright images that catch the eye. It is just a shame that the story seems to randomly trundle along and Whitehouse cannot do much about that. ‘‘Pirates’’ is a fun book and children that love salty adventures will enjoy it. However, for those none-to-fussed about Pieces of Eight etc. the slightly directionless story will mean that it loses its appeal more swiftly than with some titles.