Ever since I was young, I have enjoyed stories of pirates and adventure. Eve Bunting’s recent young adult novel, The Pirate Captain’s Daughter, is not your usual swashbuckling story.
Catherine DeVault knows her father is a pirate. When Catherine’s mother dies, she talks her father into allowing her to dress up as a boy and accompany him on his ship. Her father reluctantly agrees, knowing full well that the decision could have dire consequences for them both. Catherine knows there are dangers everywhere when she discovers a plan to steal something from her father. As “Charlie” she goes aboard her father’s ship, as his son. A little too late, she identifies the potential thieves as a couple of the pirates on board. The young cabin boy William soon discovers that she is a girl but swears he will not disclose that information. Life aboard ship becomes more and more dangerous for them all.
It seems obvious that the gritty realism with which Bunting tells the story is much closer to reality than the swashbuckling tales we often read; like food full of all sorts of creatures, betrayal, and horrible cruelty. There is also kindness and love. It’s refreshing to see a new take on an old story.