Ned the Knitting Pirate
Author: Diana Murray
Illustrator: Leslie Lammie
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: 2016
Lexile Level: AD (adult directed)
We follow the crew of the Rusty Heap in this tale, as they sing and plunder through the day. As the pirate crew sings about their deeds, young Ned (sporting a knitted tricorner hat) chimes in that they “knit.” This angers the captain, who maintains that pirates do not knit, and eventually bullies Ned into hanging up his needles and yarn. Until, of course, a sea monster needs defeating, and only Ned’s knits will do the trick.
As a knitter myself, I’m a sucker for children’s books that include the activity. Combine pirates and knitting? I was sold before I even cracked the cover. The rhyming couplets makes reading the story quick and fun, and would lend it well to a storytime. There are plenty of words with double meaning (usually relating to knitting), particularly in relating to the captain.
Part of me would have liked for Ned to have been a female pirate—you can never have enough female pirates. But the other part of me applauds the author’s disregard for gender norms, by having a boy joyfully knitting away. Plenty of men knit, but it is still generally considered a “feminine” activity.
The illustrations are a great sketched style, though in places it likes a bit more like concept art than a finished draft. The pictures are not necessary for the story, making it good for visually challenged readers. The only area where this doesn’t hold true is Ned’s dialogue balloons, when he chimes in the word “knit.” But this can easily be overcome by a reader.
This story would be great for a storytime on pirates, crafting, or for fun. It would also be great as a one-on-one story, especially in households with constant knitting.