Sunday 31 January 2016

A pirate's life for me!

We've been going pirate mad in this house lately. ET has had the ELC Happyland pirate ship for ages but, recently, he's been much more aware of pirates as a 'thing'. Now, I've been a bit of a pirate geek since I was a child (I even have a pirate themed tattoo!), so I'm happy to see my little landlubber taking an interest in the subject. I'm been (possibly over) encouraging this over the last week or so, so I thought I'd give you a roundup of what we'd been up to.

Our friends bought ET a dress-up box for Christmas which he's not had much time to use but, this week, I remembered one of the outfits was a pirate costume! ET loved dressing up like a pirate and took to walking round the house shouting 'yo ho!' and 'pirate's life for me!'.
Avast ye!
ET then decided any self-respecting pirate would ride a dinosaur, so we had to get his rocking (dino)horse out...

Pirate on a dinosaur because why not?
He kept the costume on all day, though by the end of it the bandana had twisted round and looked more Tupac than Long John Silver...

Hit em up!
Movies and TV
This week we watched a couple of pirate-themed movies or TV shows.

Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

Now I'm not usually a fan of the Aardman animated films. Not for any particular reason; I've just never really watched any of them. But oh my, do I love this film. It's funny, clever, brilliantly animated and Hugh Grant as the pirate captain is utterly superb.

The story revolves around the Pirate Captain's (none of the main crew have actual names, more descriptions like 'Albino Pirate' or 'The Pirate with Gout') quest to win the Pirate of the Year competition, something he's failed to do many, many years running. I won't spoil anything, but let's just say it involves Charles Darwin, a monkey butler, Queen Victoria and a Dodo everyone thinks is just a big-boned parrot. Check out the trailer below:

Honestly, it's a cracking film and gets better on each repeat viewing (just as well - you know what it's like when a toddler gets obsessed with a film!).
Thanks, Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate
Muppet's Treasure Island
How could I talk about child-friendly pirate films and not mention this classic? Hot on the heels of the success of A Muppet's Christmas Carol came this, a vastly reimagined version of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic. Now, this film is nowhere near close to the source material (pretty much everyone dies in the book - not exactly something you can get away with in a Muppet movie), but it features catchy songs, Tim Curry being awesome as usual and the comedy double act of Gonzo and Rizzo, something sadly missing from the newest Muppet movies. ET loves this because 1. it's Kermit and 2. it's Kermit as a pirate.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates

I'm not a massive fan of this, personally, but ET likes it. It does that thing that I've noticed a lot of kids cartoons do these days where they ask the person watching a question and then stare out of the screen for a few seconds as if waiting for an answer. I find this oddly disconcerting, if I'm honest!

This cartoon follows the titular Jake and his band of pirates. I've not really paid that much attention, so I'm not sure why Jake, who is clearly a child, is a pirate and not a Lost Boy, or why he occasionally teams up with Captain Hook. Clearly I am not the target audience for this, though, so I just ET get on and enjoy it!

Black Sails - one for the parents!
Now this is something I am the target audience for - and it is also most definitely not appropriate for under 18s! Black Sails is a show about Captain Flint (of Treasure Island fame), set 20 years before the book, as he tracks down a Spanish galleon filled with gold. It's an interesting premise because the show also features people like Charles Vane, Jack Rackham and Anne Bonnie - all of whom were real people and, of course, real pirates. This mashup of fact and fiction makes for an entertaining show that isn't as violent or racy as, say, Spartacus, but features plenty of both to make it definitely one for the adults! The first season starts pretty slowly, it takes them far too long to actually get out onto the sea, but it's thoroughly entertaining nonetheless. Seasons 1 and 2 in their entirety are available on Amazon Prime and Season 3 has just started. Well worth watching!

It was my birthday in the week and K and I thought we'd pop into town - childless, no less! - for a spot of shopping and treats. Well, we did do shopping - we bought loads of new clothes and books for ET!

Popping into Waterstones (oh I do love it in Waterstones...the smell of the books; the thousands of stories waiting patiently to be read), we headed to the children's section to see what we could see. K was after some Roald Dahl prints we'd seen prior to Christmas and I wanted to get ET the last couple of Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler collaborations that ET didn't own; specifically, Monkey Puzzle and Tabby McTat. But what did I spy whilst I was there? Why, a couple of pirate picture books!

Here Be Monsters
Written by Jonathan Emmett and (beautifully) illustrated by Poly Bernatene
This book charts the course of Captain Cut-Throat as he seeks out an island shrouded in mist, rumoured to be home to giant gemstones but also even bigger monsters...a fact Captain Cut-Throat painfully ignores to disastrous results.

This book was a lot of fun; the rhyme was sublime (ha), the story was engaging and it is ever so beautifully illustrated in a painterly, stylised way with some cracking characterisation and magnificent monsters. It's a bit...dark, with none of the characters making it to the end, so more sensitive children might be a bit put off, but even so it's a brilliant read.

5 'arrs' out of 5 from both ET and I!

The Pirate Cruncher
Written and illustrated by Jonny Duddle
Another fun tale, this one has a similar premise in that it's about pirates going after buried treasure (isn't that what all pirate stories are about, after all?). Some of the rhyming doesn't quite work and there are pages where it's abandoned completely, but nonetheless it's an engaging read and very well illustrated with some great character designs and a morale about not being greedy!

I liked the ending, too, which had me flicking back through the book and chuckling to myself - very clever! 4 arrs out of 5!

The Pirates Next Door
Written and illustrated by Jonny Duddle
Another one by Jonny Duddle, the scurvy dog! The rhyming in this one is much better and it's a cool story about pirates who move in next door to a young girl and teaches an important lesson about not judging people too soon.

Again, it's remarkably well illustrated, with each character being unique and some lovely little touches to look out for.

We both really enjoyed this one, so it gets 5 arrs out of 5!

And finally...

We're currently trying to encourage ET to think about using the potty; after showing an initial interest some months ago that saw us dash out and buy a Thomas the Tank Engine potty, ET hasn't asked to use it since. We're very much - and always have been - led by him when it comes to these sorts of things. We've read plenty of research that suggests forcing children to potty train too early can lead to problems later, such as bed wetting. However, now that ET is fast approaching three, we thought it was time to intervene and try to push the subject a bit more. Given that ET is obsessed with pirates, I thought the following book might be a good purchase...

Pirate Pete's Potty
Written by Andrea Pinnington
This book is all about Pirate Pete as he decides that he wants to be more grown up and start using a potty instead of wearing nappies like his baby brother. Honestly it feels a bit odd to be reading about 'wees and poos', but ET was really into it (perhaps a little too into it; he took quite a shine to a potty in the book and refused to use his own as he wanted one just like it). The book features a button which you press at the end of each page and that lets out a cheer to help encourage your child that going to the potty is a good thing. The book clearly works because, after finishing it, ET insisted on going to the potty (once we'd convinced him that his Thomas one was just as good as the pirate one in the book...).

Quite the haul! Erm...the rum was mine, honest!
So there you have it; our little pirate has had a lot of adventures this week!


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