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The Ballad of the Pirate Queens
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The Ballad of the Pirate Queens

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  254 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Two sailors were keeping watch alone when the governor's men stormed aboard the Vanity. Those two--the legend-inspiring pirate queens Anne Bonney and Mary Reade--fought bravely but called in vain for their shipmates, who sported and drank below deck. Jane Yolen's stirring ballad immortalizes these two daring women and offers readers an intriguing look at life on the high s ...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1995)
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Jose Juan
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it
When I think of the word ballad I think of a slow, sad song. This book by Jane Yolen is just that, a sad story told in a poetic way. The two main characters are Anne Bonney and Mary Reade. The two pirate queens sail aboard a pirate ship called the Vanity. There were 10 pirate men who also were aboard the pirate ship. One night another ship approached called the Albion and the two lady queens were the only ones on deck. They called the other men for help but they did not respond, they were too bu ...more
These ladies may have been badass historic figures, but the poetic retelling herein was boring.
This ballad is about two of the most famous female pirates ever to sail the high seas. There have always been women throughout the ages who have chosen unorthodox routes to wealth and privilege or simply a higher level of living than other women. Whether they have been reviled or admired, they leave the reader secretly envying their daring, their fierce refusal to follow in the steps of other women.

In the case of this ballad, there is no comparison with other women. Instead Anne Bonney and Mary
Yolen presents an ode to pirate queens Anne Bonney and Mary Reade, who alone stood on the deck of the Vanity, and fought off invading sailors while the ship's male crew partied below. Once taken into custody, the women used a uniquely female excuse to avoid dancing at the end of the hangman's noose. The story is based on fact, though there seems to be some question over what actually became of the gals after the verdict was announced.

The marvelous illustrations are by David Shannon, best known f
Andy Hickman
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Ballad of the Pirate Queens” by Jane Yolen, David Shannon (Illustrator)
Beautifully illustrated poem of Anne Bonny and Mary Reade's journey on the 'Vanity' when confronted by the 'Albion'.
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Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Ballad of the Pirate Queens is a book that I picked up long before I ever planned to have a child or work as a children's librarian. It was just one of the books that are so stunning and so intriguing that I felt I had to have it for my own library. It was also my first encounter with Jane Yolen's writing. I have since become a huge fan of this amazingly prolific writer. Every book she writes, and she writes a staggering array, is pitch-perfect. The Ballad of the Pirate Queens with its mix o ...more
Jennafer Haskell
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: informational
The Ballad of the Pirate Queens was an interesting true story of two real women, Anne Bonney and Mary Reade, who fought harder and braver than any of the men they knew, but were still captured. This would have been the end of their story, had it not been for their pregnancies. They "pleaded their bellies" and were set free while the rest of their crew was hanged for piracy. They were hard-hearted, as Anne is said to have told her husband in prison, "I am sorry to see you here, but if you had fou ...more
Katherine Cowley
This ballad adapts the real story of two real pirate queens. And this truly is a ballad--a song in poem form, with the refrain whose meaning modifies as the story goes on. These pirate queens are fierce, and, as necessity demands, unforgiving. The images are stunning and tell as much of the story as the words. While some kid books that use poetry have forced rhymes and awkward phrases, every line and word in this ballad is perfect poetry. I loved the way that history was integrated into story. M ...more
The reoccurring verse and the lyrical style are both very well done, though I was hung up on the meter a few times while reading this and had to reread a line to make it fit. It was a nice telling of the story of Mary Reade and Anne Bonney and did Calico Jack the appropriate disservice a scalawag such as him deserved. This is not at all the style I've grown used to seeing from David Shannon though. It was far more detailed and dark than other work he's done, particularly the pirate series he did ...more
Benjamin Zapata
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Illustrated by David Shannon,this is a marvelous ballad by the amazing writer Jane Yolen about the two legend-inspiring pirate queens Anne Bonney and Mary Reade,the two most famous females pirates of all time. David Shannon's illustrations are a beautiful complement to Yolen's lovely ballad!A winner!
Amanda Andrews
I really enjoyed this book because it is about 2 pirate females. The story was pretty interesting and the illustrations were beautiful (by David Shannon). It was also neat because at the end, I found out that the book was based on a true story from the 1700s! I wouldn't recommend it for younger children though, because it talks about people getting hanged at the end.
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When my daughter was 3 years old, this was her favorite book for an entire summer. We read it every night, sometimes twice. The book inspired her to want to be a pirate when she grew up. As well as a pirate for Halloween that year. Now she is a young teen and this helps to explain her love for fiction stories that are written in verse.
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This lyrical poem filled our bedtime with the rhythm of another time. History came alive and intrigued both my kids. Glad for the historic fact end notes that helped round out this story. My son is starting to recognize Jane Yolen and love her as much as I do!
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I wanted this book so bad I bought it off Ebay. I wasn't dissappointed! David Shannon is the illustrator (I didn't recognize him until much later). The pictures and prose make the book. It's real and not just for kids!
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 6th-grade
The Ballad of the Pirate Queens is one of my favorite poems. I really like that this book is told in verse and the illustrations are really nice. I thought it was an interesting story and I liked that it had two tough female leads.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The fact that I have an entire shelf just for pirate books should tell you something. This was a great picture book about two real pirates. I greatly enjoyed the prose, and the gorgeous art.
Caroline Watson-Felt
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book... umm, I mean "childrens' book." :)
The illustrations were better than the text.
Jan 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
Great poetic ode to 2 real pirate women of the past. Terrific illustrations, too.
Sarah King
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: pirates
The story
Apr 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Wonderfully illustrated book about two pirate queen heroes. The brief history and legend make the book more intriguing... now I want to learn more about Anne and Mary Reade.
Truly meant to be read aloud.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful illustrations for beautiful poetry about Pirate Queens. How awesome is that?
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: not just children, everyone!
A wild and beautiful ballad. It looks like a children's book, but it shouldn't be.
Christy Fisher
Picture Book
Kathleen Moore
Picture Book
Imperfectlyrua Castle-Hackett
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautiful illustrations. I admire Yolen's dedication to form even if I find her meter to be somewhat forced in this book.
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is beautifully illustrated. Arley was very excited about the Pirate theme but the story itself was a bit long, so I will probably wait until he is a bit older to read it to him again.
Ellie  Dynek
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: once-upon-a-time
A very creative retelling of two of the most famous pirates in history. The rhyming was a little hard to appreciate, but that might just be personal preference over anything else
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more
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