Would you believe that with the hundreds of picture books I have in my possession I do not have one about pirates! That surprises me. There must be oodles of books about pirates on the market.
When I was in London last year I did buy a delightful book for my grandchildren called My Granny is a Pirate by Val McDermid. We had enormous fun reading it and laughing at the wonderful illustrations by Arthur Robins.
Although I own many titles by Mem Fox, I don’t own her “all time classic and long-lasting bestselling” pirate book, Tough Boris . In the information about the story on her website, Mem explains how the story came to be and raises issues of sexism, particularly regarding the over-representation of male characters, in picture books. This is a topic that is very familiar to me.
In addition to not owning books about pirates, I can remember using a pirate theme for teaching on only one occasion. This surprises me too as pirates seems to be a perennial theme for birthday and fancy dress parties. Children and adults find the idea of pirates fun. You have only to look at the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean series to know that.
Of course, in this post I am referring only to the pirates of picture books and movies such as these, that were no more real than other fanciful characters such as giants, fairies, elves and dragons.
The occasion for my using a pirate theme was over twenty years ago when I was running early childhood classes as part of my home-based business Create-A-Way, and the inspiration for it was of a practical rather than literary nature. I was required to wear a patch over an eye after having a pterygium removed. A pirate day seemed like a great way to avoid upsetting the children and to have a bit of fun as well. Perfect!
But why am I thinking about pirates you may wonder. Well, it’s in response to the post by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch and her challenge to writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a pirate story. As always Charli gets me thinking about different things with her prompts. She is talking about the piracy from her internet data service and drinking rum before 10 am, which is apparently something pirates do.
As usual I take the prompt to the early childhood education setting, and I’m excited by doing so. Ever since reading Charli’s prompt I have had ideas for teaching and learning experiences based on a pirate theme swirling around in my head. I may be late coming to the party, but I’m not coming underdressed.
One of the things I have always loved about teaching is the opportunity to be creative: to write and prepare fun educational resources to use with my children. What wonderful things could be done with a pirate theme. I can’t believe I have never done it. And while I am no longer in the classroom and the opportunity is not there for me to use them with my own class, I can make them for my website to share with other teachers. The fun of thinking, writing, and creating is still mine!
I’m pleased to announce that my website is underway. I have signed with a web designer and developer. It should be ready to go live by the end of January, ready for the start of the new school year in Australia. I can’t wait. Well, I can wait. I still have so much work to do in the meantime. I have resources to finish and new ones to write. There are many “in progress”. While I won’t be rushing into making pirate themed resources, I am putting them on my list. I have lots of ideas.
Actually now that I think about it, the mix of feelings I have now that the website is imminent may be similar to those experienced by someone walking the plank: there is no way back and the choice for the future is to either sink or swim. If I do manage to hold my head high and above water level, I hope I don’t get eaten by sharks!
On my website subscribers will be invited to suggest or request resources to match their requirements. I love thinking of resources to suit particular topics or to teach particular skills or processes. I would love a request for pirate materials so that I could get started on making them sooner rather than later.
Here are a few ideas I have to start with. I’m sure I would come up with many more given a little longer.
© Norah Colvin 2015
But now here is what got me thinking about pirates in the first place: my flash fiction response to Charli’s prompt. I’m definitely sticking with my early childhood theme and a bit of fun for this one.
If I was …
If I was a pirate
I would sail the ocean blue,
In a boat made out of cardboard
With my parrot Libby-Lou.
I would wear a red bandana
And purple polished boots.
I would flash my pearls and silver sword
And plunder pirate loot.
I would dig for buried treasure
In the spot marked with an X,
And all I’d find I’d stow inside
My handy wooden chest.
I would have no one to boss me
I could do just as I please,
Until my dad would call me
“Anna, come, it’s time for tea!”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.