Review: Pirate Queens by Leigh Lewis

This wow-worthy book proves that women have been making their mark in all aspects of history–even the high seas!

Meet Ching Shih, a Chinese pirate who presided over a fleet of 80,000 men (by contrast, Blackbeard had some 300). Get the scoop on Anne Bonny who famously ran away from an arranged marriage to don trousers and brandish a pistol in the Bahamas. And there are more!

Each pirate profile includes a dramatic original poem presented against a backdrop of gorgeous full-color art by award-winning illustrator Sara Gómez Woolley. Each profile is followed by fascinating information about the real life and times of these daring (and dangerous!) women.

Vetted by the world’s leading pirate experts and historians, this book is a cool and edgy gift. It’s also perfect for any curious kid who dreams of adventure and for parents who are eager to show their tweens and teens that history is more diverse, daring, and surprising than what is typically found in textbooks.

I received a copy of Pirate Queens for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation for this review.

I remember, back in fifth grade, going to the library and searching for a book on pirates. I can’t for the life of me remember if it was for school or pleasure (I was one of those kids that researches for fun), but I do remember picking up a book, flipping through it, and finding a section about Anne Bonny. I was in awe. Not only were pirates just plain cool with their 1600’s punk rock attitude, but there were women pirates! Or at the least, two I could find.

Enter today and I have received Pirate Queens by Leigh Lewis and illustrated by Sara Gomez Woolley. This book is short and colorful, but it has more information about female pirates than that one book I held so long ago. Just look at that cover and you know these ladies were just as punk rock as their more well known male counterparts.

The book reminds me of the National Geographic’s children’s books and honestly this may be one of those, but it has a great appeal that would fit in an adult’s home as well. The content is informative, teaching the reader about a number of different female pirates from the Nordic lands to China. Each woman held their own strength and seemed to rule over their corner of the seven seas.

Artemisia, a queen ruling over the city-state Caria. Sela, a princess of Norway turned pirate in rebellion. And Ching Shih, a pirate commanding close to 80,000 men. These women I did not know about and learned them in this book.

If the information wasn’t enough to grab you, the artwork will. Sara Gomez Woolley has an attention grabbing style filled with color and detail. You feel the grit and strength in her illustrations.

“Artemisia of Caria” illustrated by Sara Gomez Woolley. Taken from Pirate Queens written by Leigh Lewis

Just look at that picture. Artemisia is standing tall, bow ready in hand. She isn’t backing down and looks ready to continue fighting without allowing fear to take over. With Leigh Lewis’ words and Sara Woolley’s artwork, I can’t help but smile every time I open the book. And despite it being a quick read, it is just too pretty not to occasionally look inside.

This book inspires me just like the book I held back in fifth grade. This is a great reference for child and adult alike. I highly recommend.

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