The Pirate’s Bed (2015), by Nicola Winstanley

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 20.4.

The Pirate’s Bed

Winstanley - Pirate

I have to agree with my teenaged daughter: “I like the drawings; they’re really cute,” but the text of The Pirate’s Bed, for me, leaves something to be desired. Brevity, perhaps, or a more flowing narrative … The premise is sweet: told, as the title suggests, from the perspective of the pirate’s bed, not the pirate. We experience its freedom in separation from its owner, its discovery of loneliness, and its return to the comforts of family. I think the problem for me is that there are too many words on the page to create a balance with the simplicity of the story; the writing is more at a chapter-book than a picture book level. The storm scene lasts far too long, covering five full pages. In this time, we are hearing mostly about the pirate, too, which really steers the focus away from the bed. When the pirate and his crew are washed ashore on an island, and we follow the bed as it drifts off to sea, it comes as a surprise, title notwithstanding. Once we readjust our focus (something the reader should not really have to do in this simple a narrative), the plot mores on more fluidly, and we begin to understand the point of the story. Maybe a skillful reader could counteract the imbalance between story and text, focusing on the drama of the storm, the loneliness of the bed… but it would take and initial reading to prepare, and a bit of natural talent to execute. Still, my daughter finds the entire book “adorable,” so who am I really, an adult, to demur?

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