The Day the Pirates Went Mad by Trevor Atkins

Having grown up with storybook heroes like Trixie Belding, Nancy Drew, and Anne of Green Gables; Trevor Atkins’ depiction of Emma Sharpe in The Day the Pirates Went Mad is a refreshing reminder that imagination never grows old. Atkins writes this historical fiction with an easy fluidity that readers young and old can lose themselves in.

Emma Sharpe, a tenacious pre-teen, rises above her family’s disposition of poverty and strife and sets her course for life on the high seas during the early 1700s at the height of the golden age of sail and piracy. Separated from her parents and brothers at the age of seven, Emma is determined to change her status as “orphan” and reunite with her family by becoming an adventurer much like her hero Sir Francis Drake. Throughout her journey, she is met with challenges and tough decisions but with wisdom beyond her years and the assistance of those who encourage her curiosity to flourish, including her friend Old Mossy; whose yarns of his days sailing with famed pirate Henry Morgan, help Emma to daringly chart a course as a stowaway on The New Adventure where her life swiftly changes.

Soon discovered, Emma fears the worst; being tossed to Davy Jones but she crosses her fingers in hope that she is correct about Captain Garrett’s character, and he will allow her to stay aboard until their next port of call or better still become one of his crew of motley misfits. Garrett who pilots his ship and his mates with firm precision and respect holds true to his ambition and Emma soon finds herself as part of an eclectic family of sailors, all with tumultuous past lives and skills that Captain Garrett expertly utilizes to keep his ship harmoniously afloat.

“Trevor Atkins’ ability to develop such an endearing character as Emma is a gift to those who choose to put down the electronics and thumb through the pages of this grand adventure where they will find themselves bated with anticipation for what course will be plotted next.”

Life on the New Adventure is far from idyllic. Emma and the crew find themselves facing the doldrums, treacherous seas, pirates, and cursed treasure while sailing from exotic ports of call all over the seven seas but with Captain Garrett at the helm as their compassionate fair leader respectfully strengthens their attributes and skills allowing each one to fulfill their own destiny. Meanwhile, empathetic Emma uses her youthful outlook, level-headedness and critical thinking to help overcome any adversity and soften their hard edges.

By building his characters with tidbits of their backgrounds and beginnings, within each chapter, Atkins gives his readers inklings of future plotlines as he skillfully anchors his story with historical facts, lessons of diversity, acceptance, perseverance, and good triumphing over evil. This author is an expert in subtly masking a lesson within the pages of this beautifully written period novel, the most powerful on this inaugural voyage, being that home is where you make it and family is who you determine it to be despite past deeds, creed, colour, and gender. Emma finds her home on the New Adventure and even though she is away from her parents and siblings, her family now encompasses a crew of scallywags which she readily accepts. The author truly has done a remarkable job writing strong character roles in a period of slavery, revolution, new discovery, superstition, and piracy. Atkins allows his readers to believe that equality is indeed possible and not all treasures are glittery gold.

Trevor Atkins’ ability to develop such an endearing character as Emma is a gift to those who choose to put down the electronics and thumb through the pages of this grand adventure where they will find themselves bated with anticipation for what course will be plotted next. Will the winds be fair, will Davy Jones add to his bounty? Or will Emma and her shipmates be reunited with loved ones, strike it rich, or turn to a life of piracy, the narratives are rich and endless.

What a delightful book to accompany a curriculum in topics such as history, science, creative writing, astrology, geography, and problem-solving. Teachers and parents alike can encourage youth to chart Emma’s next adventure and learn of the countries she makes port in and set their imagination afire.

There are so many plusses to The Day the Pirates Went Mad, that it is hard to find any black spots other than the cover illustrations which seems terribly unappealing to the reader. Yes, it is agreeable that no book should be judged by its cover, however, had a synopsis not been provided, one would not readily know this was a novel produced for the younger reader or that it is to become part of a series. The only suggestion to improve this captivating little treasure would be to rework the title and cover illustration, otherwise, it’s all hands on deck and full speed ahead to the next adventure of Emma Sharpe and the New Adventure. Hey ho!

Trevor Atkins lives with his family on the west coast of Canada and has been working with words for much of his life, but has only recently pursued historical fiction for younger readers. The Day the Pirates Went Mad was written for his daughter, designed as an entertaining tale of adventure while sharing many nuggets of knowledge about real-life during the Age of Sail and the Golden Age of Piracy in particular. Visit our website for various teaching resources & behind-the-scenes:

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Silverpath Publishing Inc. (April 21 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 244 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1989459021
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1989459027

I’m a native of Miramichi, live much of my life on family grounds just outside the city limits, have lived in Toronto and Fredericton for a period of time as well. A graduate of UNB with a Bachelor of Nursing. Avid reader and novice writer. I took part in a group called I Wrote a Thing in 2019 and participated in the Burnt Church MidSummer Festival that same year thanks to Judy Bowman and Sandra Bunting. My love of history and writing find me managing Wilson’s Point Historic Site during the summer months, I love to explore new places am a huge fan of LM Montgomery, and reside with two lap cats and a ton of books I have yet to read.

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