#649 Pirates of the Gulf

Scallywag on the Salish Sea
by Sara Cassidy, with illustrations by Mike Deas

Victoria: Heritage House, 2019
$9.95 / 9781772032789

Reviewed by Valerie Green


This delightful little book, written by Sara Cassidy with illustrations by Mike Deas, is aimed specifically at a six to nine year-old demographic who love pirate stories and somewhat gruesome, action-filled adventures on the High Seas.

The Greasy Lobster is a pirate ship captained by the fierce Captain Gallows. When a young boy finds himself stranded on board, having been won by a pirate in a dice game, he is forced to work for the captain and the ship’s cook, Skullcap.

Although he would rather peel potatoes, he is told to gut fish in the galley, a job he hates. The boy has no choice but to obey orders as he has no family to return to and no name. But then, inside the fish he is gutting, he finds the answer to how he might escape.

Sara Cassidy

Meanwhile, in his mind, everything on the ship is disgusting, but children reading the story will delight in the revolting tasks the unnamed boy must do — like gutting fish and cutting out their eyeballs, or pulling out a fishbone with tweezers from the captain’s throat, which saves his life.

Other colourful names such as One Ear, Peggy, Jolly, Roger, a seagull named Meringue, and Heinous Henry are just a few of the amusing monikers Cassidy gives her group of oddball eccentrics found on pirate ships on the Salish Sea. In addition, this particular story lends itself to possible future books on the adventures of the boy with no name.

Scallywag at work on in the galley of the Greasy Lobster, by Mike Deas

With a number of children’s books already under her belt, Victoria author Sara Cassidy has been shortlisted for the Chocolate Lily Award, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, and the Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize. She has also written poetry and both fiction and nonfiction for adults. More about her can be found on her website.

My only criticism would be that the story would have increased the attention span of the six year-old I read it to, if there had been more illustrations on some of the pages. The excellent black and white illustrations, drawn by Mike Deas, will be enjoyed by readers. From Salt Spring, Deas is an author and illustrator of graphic novels and books for young people. For more information, visit his website.

The book was published by Wandering Fox Books, an imprint of Heritage House Publishing in Victoria.


Valerie Green

Valerie Green was born and educated in England where she studied journalism and law. Her passion was always writing from the moment she first held a pen in her hand. After working at the world-famous Foyles Book Store on Charing Cross Road, London, followed by a brief stint with M15 and legal firms, she moved to Canada in 1968, where she married and raised a family, while embarking on a long career as a freelance writer, columnist and author of over twenty non-fiction historical and true-crime books including Above StairsUpstarts and OutcastsIf these Walls Could TalkVanished: The Michael Dunahee Story, and Dunmora: The Story of a Heritage Manor House on Vancouver Island (Hancock House, 2017, reviewed in Ormsby #434 by Patrick Dunae). She is currently working on her debut novel Providence, which will be published soon as the first of The McBride Chronicles, an historical four-generational family saga bringing early BC history alive. Now semi-retired (although writers never really retire!) she enjoys taking short road trips around the province with her husband, watching their two beloved grandsons grow up and, of course, writing.


Artist and illustrator Mike Deas

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Sara Cassidy

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