For a kids’ picture book with a positive message try The Pirates Next Door

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The Pirates Next Door starring The Jolley-Rogers by Jonny Duddle
Templar Publishing, 2011. Pages: 36.
Genre: Children’s Picture book. Approx. age: 5+
We rate it: 5/5

Buy now from: Waterstones

“When pirate family the Jolley-Rogers move to Dull-on-Sea, rumours of shocking behaviour start spreading around the town. Only little Matilda can’t wait to meet the fascinating new family next door!”

If you are looking for a fun picture book with a positive and thoughtful message The Pirates Next Door is a good choice. This month’s featured children’s books was a big favourite for bedtime stories when my son was younger.

If you grew up in a seaside town like myself, you too might find Dull-on-Sea very familiar. The town is affectionately portrayed. But it is “too busy in the summer… and in winter it shut down”.


The Pirates Next Door

Tilda is one of the few children in Dull-on-Sea all year round, and she hopes that a family with a child will move in next door so she can have a friend to play with.

The Jolley-Rogers – nightmare or dream neighbours?

Tilda is delighted when a new family does move in. But they are not like most families; they are the Jolley-Rogers. The pirate family has even brought their huge ship with them to be fixed. Tilda becomes firm friends with the pirate boy Jim Lad.

Unfortunately not everyone from Dull-on-Sea is so happy with the new additions to the town. Tilda’s parents wish she would be friends with “NORMAL boys and girls”. Neighbours complain about the habits of Jim and his pirate family. Their lifestyle appears to be strange to the residents. And so the Jolley-Rogers are not welcome in the small town.

What we loved about this book

Reading this picture book with my then five-year-old, we loved the funny dialogue of The Pirates Next Door. Jonny Duddle’s illustrations are also fun and full of humour. The story is a witty way of approaching small-town attitudes. It encourages having an open mind about people who are different from ourselves. This positive message comes across in a lighthearted way.

The book can be a great starting point for conversations with children. You could ask them, “who would be your ideal or worst neighbours? What would it be like if aliens came to live next door to us? Or cowboys? Would it be fun or strange?”

The residents of Dull-on-Sea are in for a surprise at the end. There is a great fold-out section, making the book an active hands-on read for children. The fold-out pages reveal a plot-twist that shakes up the expectations of the pirate’s neighbours.

Who will enjoy this picture book?

I’d recommend this book for any children around 5 years and a bit older. Children who enjoy books with bright detailed illustrations and children who love pirates will particularly love it. This is a picture book that can be re-read often by children and parents together. With short pieces of text and a snappy story, it is the perfect length for a bed-time read.

About the author – Jonny Duddle

The author and illustrator of this fantastic children’s book grew up in North Wales. Jonny Duddle has created a number of children’s books, including The Pirate-Cruncher, another great picture book that we enjoyed. Children can enjoy looking out for familiar characters that appear in both books.

Duddle has also been busy illustrating the covers of the children’s editions of the Harry Potter books. It was fun to recognise his distinctive drawing style decorating the covers of some of my son’s more recent reads.

What could fans of The Pirates Next Door read next?

Duddle has also written and illustrated chapter books about the characters from The Pirates Next Door. Their ongoing adventures in books like The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon are great follow-ups for progressing readers who love pirates.

These books are longer and have more text than the picture books but still have a lot of fun illustrations to break up the text. Check out The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon, which is the first in a series of chapter books featuring the pirate family here.

The Jolley-Rogers also feature in a brand new exciting picture book adventure for 2018, The Pirates of Scurvy Sands by Duddle. Find out more about The Pirates of Scurvy Sands here.

For more great picture book choices, check out our guide to picture books for age 0-5 here. And for even more great kid’s book ideas, explore all our children’s book recommendations here.

Over to you

Have you read The Pirates Next Door book? What did you think? What are your best-loved pirate books or picture books? I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.

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Alex is the kind of parent who wants to discuss the latest hero movie or middle-grade book series on the school run. She grew up on the Lord of the Rings books and has a background in education & publishing. She believes all children & young people can enjoy wonderful story-telling and loves sharing ideas with others.