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Captain McGrew Wants You for His Crew! – Book Review

Captain McGrew Wants You for His Crew!

A new, piratical picture book by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Ed Eaves and published by Bloomsbury.

Also available at Book Depository: Captain McGrew Wants You for His Crew!

Also by Mark Sperring (this is just a tiny sample of his work):

I’ll Love You Always

I’ll Love You Always (Book Depository)


Your Hand in My Hand

Your Hand in My Hand (Book Depository)

Dino-Baby (Book Depository)
How Many Sleeps ‘Til My Birthday?

How Many Sleeps ’til my Birthday? (Book Depository)

The Book

Ahar! Another pirate book to add to the ever-popular genre that has spanned generations and the gender divide.

This is a rhyming picture book for 3-7 year olds in which Captain McGrew advertises for crew to join him on his piratical adventures. Only it turns out that being part of the crew involves a lot more work and a lot less fun than the kids imagined. Perhaps signing up as a knight’s knave might be more fun…

The Pros:

The rhyme and rhythm is consistent and the content is fun and keeps the reader bouncing along. For beginning readers, the font is reasonably large with lots of repetition of the phrase ‘can you,’ and various emphasized words in capitals. The illustrations are rich with colour and detail, lots of fun to look at. They also help to build comprehension, by providing hints about the text, to help those developing readers.

There was one useful point to the story: that the reality of a situation can sometimes be less enjoyable than the imagined, and that sometimes you need to get in, try, experience, and see things as they really are before you can decide for sure whether something’s right or good for you.

The Cons:

Watch out when reading it aloud that you don’t zip too quickly through the pages, sped on by the rhythm and the repetitive nature of the text. It can get a bit monotonous if you don’t slow down and relish each page.

I question whether it’s a good idea to teach kids that hard work is a bad thing. I also wonder about the way the top position, that of Captain, is portrayed as a cushy gig, involving no work or responsibility. There’s no sense that by working hard the kids might aspire to reach the top levels of power. Instead, they just take off when the going gets tough – and then there’s another unpleasant surprise: the kids don’t learn anything from their experience. They go off to work for a knight instead and there’s no sign that they will be more alert to exploitation and the unpleasant realities of this job.


Our Rating (channelling our love of ice cream, our rating system works the way we like our ice cream: the more scoops the better. Besides, good books should be devoured!

Best = four scoops):

two scoops icecream

Two scoops. Nice for a snack!



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