Pirate Princess

by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Author) Jill McElmurry (Illustrator)

Pirate Princess
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Princess Bea isn't like other princesses--she prefers pirate ships above tea parties, the salty sea over silly dolls. But what's a landlocked princess to do?

Ahoy, Captain Jack to the rescue! When the captain offers Bea a place aboard his ship, it's a dream come true--until she's put to work swabbing the decks and making dinner for the crew. Can a princess like Bea put her royal gifts to work and make the pirates see that she's seaworthy after all--or will they make her walk the plank?

Pirate Princess is a raucous tale of girl power on the high seas, from author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrator Jill McElmurry.

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Kirkus Reviews

In upbeat, rhyming verse, Bardhan-Quallen presents the rollicking adventures of a princess-turned-pirate. Princess Bea is not your typical princess. Instead of longing for a happily-ever-after in the arms of Prince Charming, she yearns for a swashbuckling life on the high seas. One day, spying a pirate ship, she seizes the chance to make her dreams come true. To her dismay, Captain Jack assigns her deck-swabbing, cooking and, finally, lookout duties, and she fails spectacularly at all of them (especially the last, in which her failure involves puking and further fouling the deck she never successfully swabbed in the first place). Her fate is sealed. Unless determined Bea can come up with another way to make herself indispensable to the crew, she must walk the plank. The deft, engaging verse interspersed with pirate lingo is complemented neatly by McElmurry's precise and detailed illustrations. Establishing the feel of an old-fashioned fairy tale with some madcap modern twists, her dramatizations cast the pirates as peculiar and slightly intimidating rather than menacing, and bespectacled Bea as clumsy, quirky and full of pluck. A winning combination of smart and silly, this yarn will make a welcome addition to princess and pirate storytimes, as well as a good choice for one-on-one sharing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Copyright 2012 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.


Grades K-3. Princess Bea is not the frilly type. No, she is more of a hang-from-the-chandelier-and-play-swashbuckler gal, with skull-and-crossbone-print pj’s and pirating aspirations. So when the princess spies a docked pirate ship, she climbs aboard—It’s a pirate’s life for me! But things immediately don’t go well: there’s deck swabbing; inadvertent tripping of Captain Jack; acting as cooking wench; and serving as lookout from up in the crow’s nest. She is no good at any of these tasks, and it appears as if Bea is doomed to walk the plank—until her royal heritage comes in handy in the end. With a spunky, bespectacled, redheaded heroine; classic pirate stylings (eye patches, ahoys, arrrs); and bouncy rhyming stanzas, this offers a fun take on a familiar theme. Colorful, cartoonish illustrations animatedly depict archetypal characters and scenarios with amusing details, like Bea’s ubiquitous pooch companion and sword-dueling, eye-patched kitties. Overall, this is an entertaining seafaring adventure and a story about bucking conventions and expectations to pursue—here, buccaneer—your dreams.

Copyright 2012 Booklist, LLC Used with permission.

Hornbook Guide to Children

Pirate-infatuated Princess Bea abandons her throne when she spots a pirate ship. Having failed to pass the crew's tests, she finds herself walking the plank when her royal sense of smell saves her: "A princess knows her treasure!" Like the right-on-the-beat rhymes, the illustrations capture the high-seas hijinks, including what is perhaps children's literature's first vomiting princess.

Copyright 2012 Hornbook, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

For bookish tomboy Princess Bea, the seven seas beat the stuffy palace any day. In Bardhan-Quallen's (Hampire!) story, which unfolds in steady if uninspired rhymed couplets, the young royal follows her dream with gusto when she climbs aboard "a real-live pirate ship." However, she fails as a deck swabber and is a queasy lookout: "The crow's nest swayed with every gust, / A gentle rocking motion./ Bea clutched the mast, and then she just.../ Heave-hoed into the ocean." (Contrary to the verse, the vertically oriented spread shows Bea unloading her lunch onto the beleaguered Captain Jack.) Just when she's about to walk the plank, the crew discovers that Bea has a "nose for treasure"--X marks the spot in this tale's happy ending. McElmurry's (Who Stole Mona Lisa?) angular pirates are (literally) a colorful lot, sporting hair in punk rock shades, earrings, buckles, and elaborate footwear. The composition of the spreads is fairly conventional; highlights include a page dedicated to the awful meal Bea cooks and a worm's-eye-view of the treasure digging. Ages 4-8. Agent: Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency. Illustrator's agent: Wernick & Pratt Agency. (May)

Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--Princess Bea is tired of things frilly and girlie, and she longs to live on the high seas as a bona fide pirate. When she stumbles upon a pirate ship on the dock, she jumps at the chance to finally do so. However, she--and the crew--quickly realize that her strengths do not lie in deck swabbing, cooking, or being the ship's lookout perched high up in the crow's nest, the latter quite graphically shown when poor Bea loses her lunch, literally, on Captain Jack. (Parents will cringe, and children will most likely laugh as they yell a collective "EWWWW!") Before he can throw her overboard in exasperation, the youngster sniffs out hidden treasure and proves her worth. Told in rhyme, the story is stilted in places, and it goes on a bit too long. However, the illustrations do an effective job of capturing its emotion and cadence. This could be a storyhour extra for a nautically themed romp through pirate-infested seas, but Emily Arnold McCully's The Pirate Queen (Putnam, 1995) and Melinda Long's How I Became a Pirate (Harcourt, 2003) are stronger choices.--Lisa Gangemi Kropp, Half Hollow Hills Public Library, Dix Hills, NY

Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for HAMPIRE!:

"Kids will feast on this deliciously scary tale over and over. "—Kirkus Reviews

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen has never met a mermaid, but she did have three cats in college. She is the author of many books for young readers, including the Mermicorns series, Duck, Duck, Moose!; Chicks Run Wild; Hampire!; and Snoring Beauty. She lives in New Jersey with her family and an imaginary pony named Penny. Visit her online at sudipta.com or follow her on Twitter at @SudiptaBQ.

VIVIEN WU has illustrated several books with Random House and Disney Publishing, including five Little Golden Books. She also has an online shop, where she creates more artwork populated by purrmaids and feline-folk. She lives in Los Angeles with her cat, Mimi. Visit her online at vivienwu.com.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2012
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV014000 - Juvenile Fiction | Girls & Women
Library of Congress categories
Adventure and adventurers
Adventure stories
Stories in rhyme

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