The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate : Back to the Sea!

Cover of The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate by Margaret Mahy

Title : The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate

Author : Margaret Mahy

Illustrator : Margaret Chamberlain

Publisher : Orion Children’s Books

Year of Publishing : 2013 (First Published in 1972)

Age Suggestion : 6+

Type : Picture Storybooks





Have you ever been to sea? One time, I went off in the ferry across the Sunda Strait to Teluk Bayur Harbor in Padang, West Sumatra. I know, it’s not exactly the sea, but it’s almost the sea. Am I right? Well then, it was great! Every now and then, I would go to the deck and smell the salty scent of the sea with the heavy wind that makes my hair all tangled. Sometimes, I will see the flying fish (the science name is Exocoetidae, if you care to know) is floating on the surface of the water. Not for long, but it’s enough to amaze me.


If you want to see further explanation about flying fish, you can read it here: Flying Fish. By the way, there’s another sea animal you need to know. You can read a review before actually buying it, here goes: You Can’t Use Your Brain If You’re Jellyfish.


Well, if Mrs. Margaret Mahy loves sea, I can definitely see why.


So, this book tells the story about one man, the ordinary salaryman who lives in the ordinary small industrial town with his mother. What so special about him is his mother once was a pirate. And one day, his mother said how much she misses the sea and wants to see the sea once more. This guy is a lovely son who only wants to make his mother happy, so he actually takes an absence from his work, and grants his mother’s wish. They then set off the journey to the sea!


I definitely love how Mrs. Margaret Mahy described the sea. When the little man pushes his mother in the wheelbarrow, this Pirate Mom tells a lot about the sea. She said,


View under sea on The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate by Mrs.Margaret Mahy
How gorgeous the view deep under the sea. Mrs.Margaret Chamberlain drew it so nicely, it’s attempting!



It sings with a booming voice and smiles as it slaps the ships. It screams and sadly sighs. There are many voices in the sea and a lot of gossip, too.Mrs.Margaret Mahy



It’s a very beautiful narration with the nice metaphor. Simple, but really makes me miss the sea all over again.


When they are on the journey to the sea, they meet a different bunch of people. Each one convinces them not to go to the sea. Tells them how awful and unsteady the sea is. I kinda see their journey to the sea is the symbolism of pursuing your passion. It’s unsteady, so it makes you’re scared. And often, in your way, there is always this someone who makes you doubt yourself. But, you shouldn’t listen to them, because the Pirate Mom knows a lot better, and the little man is really brave to go through all the changes.


Anyway, let’s move to the illustration by Mrs.Margaret Chamberlain. Oh, I love the drawing, the one kind I like, you know, with a messy lines, but cute appearances. I especially love how Mrs.Margaret Chamberlain drew the little salaryman, he’s super cute with his classic pointed moustache. And as their journey came by, you will definitely this stiff unmotivated salaryman turns into the free man at sea, being happy and cheerful. Mrs.Margaret Chamberlain showed the transition by his clothing, once being neat and natty, until it becomes so sloppy, he even has his tie come off!


So, never afraid to pursue what your passion. Once you got it, you’re gonna feel like you’re in the sea!


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