Title: Pirates!

Author: Celia Rees

ISBN: 1582346658

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Copyright Date: 2005

Plot Summary:

Nancy Kington is the daughter of a wealthy merchant in the 1770s.  When her father unexpectedly dies, Nancy is carted off to her father’s Jamaican plantation.  While there, she befriends a beautiful slave girl named Minerva Sharpe.  Both girls face advances from unwanted men, and they decide to run away together after Nancy kills a man attempting to rape Minerva.

With limited resources, the girls eventually find themselves joining a band of pirates.  Dressed as men, the pair finds themselves on a swashbuckling adventure with a touch of romance.  The girls are pursued by Nancy’s jilted suitor and they must rely on their wits and each other to maintain their freedom.

Critical Evaluation:

Most people, including myself, love a good pirate story. The fact that this story is about female pirates makes it even better! The two main characters are forced by unfortunate circumstances to adopt a life on the high seas. The subtitle states that the remarkable tales of these two women are true. I could not find any information to support this claim, but nevertheless I hope that these characters are based on real female pirates.

Dressed as men, Nancy and Minerva shed the shackles of society and embrace a freedom they could never have known if they stayed on the stifling plantation. Teen readers will not only enjoy the adventures relayed in this story, but will also see that they can make the best of their own circumstances and change the course of their own lives. A terrible situation should not be blindly accepted and one must determine what is right for themselves.

Reader’s Annotation: One girl a lady, the other a slave. Both are ruled by cruel men until they make their daring escape.

About the Author:

The author states: “I was born and brought up in Solihull, in the West Midlands. My father was Headmaster of a Junior School, my mother stayed at home, looking after me and my older brother, Roy.

After attending Tudor Grange Grammar School for Girls, I studied History and Politics at Warwick University, and was particularly interested in American History. I remember thinking in a seminar how strange and terrifying it must have been for the first settlers, not knowing that this thread of speculation would one day re-appear and become Witch Child and Sorceress.

I took a PGCE at Birmingham University and became a teacher. I taught for over ten years, teaching English in Coventry secondary schools, before I began to write. Teaching provided plenty of inspiration and reasons for writing, but all writers need encouragement, someone to say, ‘You can do this! That’s good!’ I was studying for a Master’s Degree at Birmingham University and one of the tutors asked us to write something, as we would ask students in school. He liked what I wrote and said so. I went back to school and began to write with my students. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do. I would write for teenagers, books that they would want to read, almost adult in style and content, but with people like them at the centre. At about this time, a friend and fellow teacher told me a true story about a group of her students who had got mixed up in a murder hunt. The subject was perfect and this became my first novel, Every Step You Take, published in 1993.

I have published many more books since then: at first I worked part-time in further education and as an Open Studies Lecturer at Warwick University, then I became a full time writer in 1997. I live in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire with my husband, Terence Rees. My daughter, Catrin, now lives and works as a lawyer in London.”

Genre: Young adult, adventure, historical fiction

Curriculum Ties: History

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Describe how Nancy feels when she discovers that her brother has essentially sold her to pay off a debt.
  • Describe the ruby jewelry set that Nancy’s unwanted suitor bequeaths onto her.

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12, Ages 14-18

Challenge Issues: attempted rape, violence

Defense File:

Violence in the Media: A Joint Statement: 2000-2001 CD #19.3

Chapter 5 of Youth, Pornography, and the Internet (2002)

Justification of Selection: This is an exciting story with a historical basis. It covers many issues such as gender roles and racial prejudice, all of which are relevant to today’s teens.


Rees, C. (2015). About the author. Celia Rees. Retrieved from http://www.celiarees.com/author/biography.html


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