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The Hoys

Authored by Kes Gray
Illustrated by Mark Chambers
Published by Quarto Publishing PLC

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Pirate Jake just can’t see any hoys, no matter how often his friends shout ‘Ahoy there!’ They shout it from the end of the jetty, from the top of a crow’s nest, from the inn doorway, but look as he might, in lobster pots, behind barrels and inside treasure chests, Pirate Jake can never spot them. Disconsolate, feeling that he can’t be a real pirate if he can’t see hoys, he trudges off with his faithful parrot, along the rocks strewn with flotsam and jetsam until, worn out, he reaches an insurmountable cliff. Defeated, he looks down and spots some very strange looking footprints. Following them, Jake is confronted by a secret cave hidden by a curtain of seaweed. As he peers inside, he hears whispers ‘Apirate there!’ echoing through the darkness. He yells ‘Ahoy there!’ and is delighted with what he finds…

There is so much to enjoy in this story of a pirate who feels he is a proper pirate now that he knows what ‘Ahoy there!’ means. Kes Gray’s love of the absurd is matched by Mark Chambers’ busy colourful illustrations. Every double page spread is packed with detail and in the first few pages young readers from 3 years upwards can play ‘count the pirates’ or ‘find the tiny mouse’ while enjoying this tale of a bemused and frustrated pirate. Vignettes show Jake’s floundering searches, double page spreads follow the mysterious footprints and reveal what’s inside the cave whilst the design of the text on the pages adds to the atmosphere throughout. Kes Gray is an accomplished storyteller and this book will be enjoyed and shared by many, including those who enjoy his running joke about a parrot who doesn’t repeat what his pirate says, in this rollicking pirate tale.