Captain Pugwash: A Pirate Story

by John Ryan

London: Bodley Head, 1957

32 pp.

Age: 3 +

Interests: pirates, ships, ocean, treasure

Sequels: Pugwash Aloft (1960), Pugwash and the Ghost Ship (1962), Pugwash in the Pacific (1963) – and many more

Captain Horatio Pugwash thinks himself the most capable, daring and dashing of pirates, though the truth is that if it weren’t for his cabin boy Tom, his ship the Black Pig would probably have sunk long ago. Tom is actually the only one who knows how to work the compass, sail the ship, and make the tea. The rest of the crew is famously lazy and undisciplined, and Pugwash himself isn’t particularly brave or clever. What really gives him the shivers is the mere thought of his nemesis Cut-throat Jake. When Pugwash spots a seemingly deserted ship with mounds of golden treasure on the deck, it seems too good to be true… and unfortunately it is. Pugwash falls for the bait and is momentarily captured by Jake, but Tom’s quick-thinking saves the day.

A lively and funny pirate picture book for the very young. The crew of the Black Pig is amusingly hopeless, and Tom as a humble hero is appealing.

Originally a very popular comic strip in Britain, this first picture book was published at the same time the BBC commissioned a series of television cartoon shorts in 1957. The earliest of these shows were actually done in ‘real-time’, shot and aired live with cardboard cutouts moved by levers. A second ‘generation’ of shows was made in 1974, and there was another batch done in 1997, this time using traditional animation techniques. There are many books in the series, picture books as well as comic-strip books. (The titles listed above are the earliest of many.)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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