Children's Book of the Month: Pyrate's Boy

Author: E.B. Colin | Age category: 8-11


Silas Orr, an 11-year-old runaway from Greenock, is saved from certain death by Captain Jon Harkin, aka the infamous pirate Black Johnnie. Choosing to stay aboard, he becomes pirate's boy on the feared ship Tenacity. Now the crew have rescued another drowning boy, but this one has a lead box chained to his ankle. What could be precious enough to keep safe with a human buoy? Whatever it is, someone will come looking for it. Silas must help Johnnie discover the child's secret and outwit their pursuers. But life on the high seas isn't easy. Silas' adventures become more and more dangerous as he escapes from an erupting volcano, navigates through treacherous coral reefs, and encounters a knifewielding, cartwheeling girl. The pirates' exploits take them from Jamaica to Glasgow -- but what awaits Silas there?

Our Review

Pyrate’s Boy is a fast paced pirate adventure story. Capturing your attention from the very beginning, it takes you on a journey of escapades with Silas – a cabin boy for the infamous Sea Captain Black Johnnie. With many tales and historical facts of the life and times of pirates in Glasgow and Jamaica in the 1700s, this book is excellent for anyone looking for some reading excitement – a real swashbuckling adventure story!


We have 5 copies of Pyrate's Boy to be won, thanks to the publishers Floris Books! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this question:

If you were a pirate, what would your pirate name be?

Add your answer as a comment to this page. Competition closes on Friday 29 November. 


Q&A with E.B. Colin

Would you like to have been a pirate?

Before I started researching the book, I would have said no - they are always portrayed as drunk, dirty or dead. 

But the more I found out about them the more attractive they became. For a brief time, when trade was booming between the West Indies and Europe in the 18th century, pirates made a huge amount of money and could afford to dress in the finest clothes and drink the best wine. And contrary to what you might think, most pirates had a code of honour which new recruits had to sign before they were allowed to join a boat. Crews were made up of an amazing mixture of people - Europeans, escaped slaves, even Native Americans. Rather than being cold-hearted killers, they would often ask the crew of the ships they plundered about their captain. If he had been fair and honest, the pirates would put him in a rowboat with enough food and water to reach the mainland. And if he hadn't . . .  

But after a short time, the authorities cracked down on piracy and if you were caught, you would either be hung or put in a cage on a beach to wait for the tide to come in. And yet the idea of being free to sail around the Caribbean dressed in velvet and silk, to be free when most people were enslaved by a job or by birth, must have been amazing. So yes (and there were several female pirates). Part of the brilliant thing about being a writer, though, is to be a pirate at my desk, go out and have dangerous adventures and come home for tea. 


Why did you start writing this book?

I stumbled upon a story about a newly-discovered wreck of a pirate ship off the coast of Cape Cod in America. Underneath a sunken cannon they had found the leg of a young boy. Although he had sadly drowned, the skeleton leg wore a silk stocking and there was a fancy black buckled shoe on his foot. I did some research and discovered that the boy had been a cabin boy to the pirate captain. This was apparently very unusual as no children were allowed on most pirate ships. 

I wanted to write something about Glasgow and the time of the Tobacco Lords. What if, I wondered, a boy from Scotland becomes the cabin boy to a notorious pirate? What kind of adventures would he go on? Pyrate's Boy came out of that. 


What else have you written?

I have written another book for children (with Sara Pinto) called My Invisible SisterThis was published in America but has just been optioned by Disney. So audiences in the UK might be able to see it one day. Other than that I write novels for adults and plays for the BBC. I used to be a journalist and so I like researching, looking at old maps and walking around graveyards. 


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