Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince by Liz Kessler

Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince – at a glance

School reading lists’s five word review: Pirates, treasure, mermaids, and danger.
Children’s book title: Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince.
Children’s author: Liz Kessler.
Genre: Middle-Grade fiction, adventure.
Published by: Hachette Children’s.
Recommended for young adults aged: 8-12.
ISBN: 9781510104228
First published: Paperback March 2019.
This children’s book is ideal for: KS2 and KS3 aged children who enjoy fast-paced adventure set in a fantasy-tinged world of pirates, treasure and villains.

Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince by Liz Kessler
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Liz Kessler is in fine form with this preteen/tween mermaid action thriller set on a hijacked cruise ship. In the 8th of the Emily Windsnap series, the protagonist’s boyfriend, Aaron is dramatically held captive. Emily agrees to work for a band of pirates to ensure his safety. The only problem is that the Pirates really, really don’t like mermaids – forcing Emily to hide her true identity.

At the same time, there’s a quest with a countdown to find a humungous pile of treasure, with clues to solve and baddies to overcome. It’s wave after wave of heady seafaring thrills for children aged 8-12.

Unique style

This is a fast-paced story peppered with humorous observations about family life and holiday tensions. The unique blend of contemporary life growing up in a seemingly normal family, woven into a fantasy-tinged mermaid world with mythical elements is a compelling one, and each chapter is a page-turner.

With more twists and turns than an ocean liner spiral staircase, Emily faces challenges, problems, hitches, and surprises. This is no millennial girls’ own Enid Blyton for 2019, however. Emily Windsnap is a modern, punchy heroine who defies conventions – and as a half mermaid – rises above potential discrimination and difficulties to make sure of her successes.

This installment, the eighth in the series, works well as a standalone children’s novel. It would likely persuade children to browse Emily’s backstory and read the previous seven books.

Using this book in school

We think this book would work well for children who enjoy characters they can identify with, fantasy stories, and stories that can be read quickly. It’s Ideal to read in one sitting. It would be a great addition to an upper key stage two library. It would work well either as an easier class reader or for after SATs in Year 6 in the summer term.

In terms of using the book for teaching, there’s good potential to study how Liz Kessler creates fantasy elements from everyday situations by subtly changing the reader’s viewpoint or tweaking the true nature of a character. This could provide the impetus for some interesting character studies and fiction writing in KS2 literacy lessons.

Our verdict

Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince is ideal for children in years 5&6 who like to rip through book after book of adventure-based thrills and spills. The unique combination of fantasy-tinged seafaring thrills combined with contemporary characters will appeal to a wide demographic of children. This makes it an ideal addition to any primary school library. Many thanks to Nina Douglas PR for the review copy.

If you like this book you might also like The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis, The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave and A Sea of Stars by Kate Maryon.

Why not have a look at our suggested reading lists for children aged 3-16?

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About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin