Picturebook Review: The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle

The Pirates Next Door written and illustrated by Jonny Duddle is a colorful and fun tale about neighbors, judgement, and new friends. The rhyming texts and bright illustrations make this a great book for reading aloud, and sharing. Matilda is thrilled when the Jolly-Roger family moves in to the long vacant house next door. The town of Dull-on-Sea is aptly named, and while often bustling in the summer, it is down right boring in the winter. There are no children for Tilda to play with, until the young pirate boy comes to town. Tilda is glad to met Jim Lad and his family, but is surrounded by the gossip of her parents and the town people, who are less than thrilled.  The community is quickly abuzz about the new residents, and about how all pirates have bad teeth, are dirty, and untrustworthy. By the time the townspeople realize that they were wrong to make hasty judgements, the pirates have left and Tilda misses her new friend, although there is promise of more adventures to come for Tilda and Jim Lad.

The Pirates Next Door was a great story, and a hit in my house. I think it will be adored by any pirate loving child, and has bits that will interest children from three years up right through fourth grade. It can be a great way to start a discussion about stereo types and judging others, or can be a great segue into fun activities like making treasure maps or obtaining pen pals. The vocabulary can also be used as a teaching tool, helping increase skills in figuring out what a word means by contextual clues. My only concern with this book are the fun fold out pages which reveal the surprise the pirates leave for the townsfolk. I worry for the safety of the library copy, and any copy of this book that faces an over eager set of hands.  I have read other reviews that take the pirate's parting bid as a desperate attempt to gain acceptability- but I highly disagree and wonder if these people my be like the townspeople that judged the pirates on their appearance rather than getting to know them.

I recommend The Pirates Next Door to all pirate fans, and who does not love a good pirate? The illustrations are simply fantastic and worth a look for their own sake. I really love the story of people looked down upon maintaining their identity while managing to prove the masses wrong, with no expectation of reciprocation. The pirates, and Tilda, and a fun loving and lively crew which will be much loved by those with a similar outlook. Those that get grumpy over a lawn that is not always perfectly tidy and look down on those that might deviate from the norm might find less joy in this story.
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