Chae Strathie, Captain Firebeard's School for Pirates, illustrated by Anna Chermnyshova

Scholastic, 2016, ISBN 978-1-407163-39-0

Lots of children would no doubt love to go to pirate school. Well, that's just what Tommy and his new friends Jo and Milton do. Their school is the Rusty Barnacle, and its eponymous headteacher has all the necessary accoutrements: a terrifying cutlass, a wooden leg and a crutch, a whole troop of parrots, one for each of the pupils, and a voluminous orange beard. What do you learn at his school? Pirate history of course, and pirate language, not to mention vital skills like climbing the rigging and fighting. You learn to have your wits about you too, which is crucial if Spiky Spencer, Muttonhead Max and Greta the Grouch are against you. Tommy and Milton aren't happy at all when Jo wants to outwit everyone by finding some long lost buried treasure. There are just too many dangers. They will have to break rules. They will have to steal. They will have to navigate the ship through a treacherous whirlpool. And the result of it all might well be that they have to walk the plank. But the Pirate Code of Conduct dictates that they must join her in her hair-raising venture.

This tale of derring-do, the first of a series, is packed with every pirate trope imaginable. There are numerous hooks in place of hands, lots of 'ahoy me hearties' and needless to say there's a secret code to crack in order to find the treasure. It's lots of fun, helped enormously by plentiful striking black, white and orange illustrations. Just one grumble: some key parts of the text are in orange too, against a grey swirly background. They're designed to stand out, but may be problematic for some children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. That aside, this will be a big hit.