I have to start this post by stating that I am not normally a fan of pirate stories, but I am a massive fan of the Bloomsbury’s flashback series – we have read a number of the stories in this series and they always manage to combine a fun fictional story with interesting historical facts, so I decided this would be one pirate story that I would read and review – Blackbeard’s Treasure by Iszi Lawrence.
The story starts with a young girl (Abigail) who lives a life of luxury on a plantation. But even though her life is easy she is jealous of a slave boy named Boubacar, because Abigails father gives Boubacar all of his attention. From the start of the book you realize that Abigail is quite a tom-boy and is very head-strong (she is actually a lovely character for younger girls to discover because she does not accept that girls must act a certain way and is prepared to fight for what she wants). Through a series of events (I don’t want to give too much away), both Abigail and Boubacar end up on pirate ship, Abigail wants to fight Blackbeard and kill him (she blames him for her father’s death until she realizes that her father was not a good man) and Boubacar wants to earn some money so he can buy his families freedom.
There are a few twists and turns, but through it all Abigail and Boubacar realize that they are brother and sister (back then it was not uncommon for plantation owners to have kids with their slaves – this is an interesting concept for kids to deal with as Boubacar and Abigail were always treated differently because of who their mother’s were and the colour of their skin) But through the different trials and events the brother and sister form a team, they protect each other and show that attitudes of adults do not always influence the younger generation.
My son, happened to spot the book at home and read it himself, he enjoyed the story, he said it was fun and enjoyed the humor that was included in certain parts as well as the whole pirating angle. He already knew about the slave trade and how they were treated so this was not a new topic for him and he just enjoyed the story as an adventure story. If he had read this a few years ago (before we learnt about the slave trade) I do think he would have had quite a few questions about the conditions of the slaves and how they were treated.
I think dealing with the slave trade and what happened to these people can be a difficult topic for some kids, (some sensitive kids are going to struggle with this). But I do also think it is an important topic. We don’t shy away from what happened during the World Wars or from what happened in other parts of our history so I think we also need to deal with this. Our kids need to understand how cruel it was and introducing them to stories like this, where the slave trade is dealt with but there is still an adventure angle with the brother and sister is a great way to get them thinking about what really happened to the slaves without making it too overwhleming.