Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Pirate Captain's Daughter

The Pirate Captain's Daughter

Eve Bunting
For ages 12 and up
Sleeping Bear Press, 2011   ISBN: 978-1585365265

For many years, Catherine and her mother have pretended to believe that Catherine’s father is a captain in the Royal Navy. The truth is that Captain DeVault is really a pirate, and his daughter would love to share his life on his ship, the Reprisal. When her sickly mother dies, Catherine begs her father to take her with him on his ship. He is going on a short three month voyage, and Catherine threatens that if does not take her with him, she will find another pirate ship to join.

Soon enough Catherine, wearing men’s clothes and with her hair cut short, goes down to Cannon Cove to join the crew of the Reprisal. Catherine can play the flute very well, and so she joins the little band of musicians who play for the pirates whenever they are told to do so, which is much of the time.

Catherine soon discovers that her preconceptions of what life on a pirate ship would be like are sadly inaccurate. The pirates are a foul-mouthed and brutish lot who seemingly have no sense of common decency. Catherine is often picked on, and her father can do little about it because he cannot show her favoritism. The only person who is at all kind to Catherine is William, the cabin boy. Still, Catherine has signed the pirate’s Code of Conduct and she is going to have to “take care of myself.”

Catherine’s situation is made a lot worse by the presence of Herc and Hopper McDonald, brothers who seem to have no fondness for Catherine’s father. In fact, Catherine is sure that they are plotting against the captain, and she comes to appreciate how dangerous her situation is. Not only must the crew members not find out that she is a girl, but she mustn’t do anything that will jeopardize her father’s position on the ship.

In this engaging novel, Eve Bunting helps us see, through Catherine’s eyes, that life on a pirate ship was hard and often cruel. The shattering of Catherine’s dreams is poignant, as is her relationship with her father. Combining adventure, mystery, and romance, Eve Bunting has created a story that is highly gratifying.