A rousing tribute to Granuaile O’Malley, 16th-century freebooter from County Mayo.
As this import has received no special treatment for an international audience, there is no pronunciation guide for names and locales, but the Irish author and illustrator offer reasons aplenty for readers this side of the pond to tip figurative hats to a fierce and fearless heroine. She started off by cutting her hair short (“Granuaile” means “Bald Gráinne”) to become a sailor, then went on to exploits that included fighting off Algerian pirates (newborn babe in one arm), leading pirate raids of her own, and bargaining face to face (in Latin, their only shared language) with Elizabeth I for the release of two sons from prison. Smiling confidently and topped by a flaming mop of red hair, O’Malley definitely cuts a swashbuckling figure in the simple, flat illustrations—cutlass frequently to hand whether leaping into (blood-free) battle or just posing heroically. Though the Burkes give both the political waters in which she sailed and the violence inherent in her line of work little notice, they do identify her two husbands and her children as well as select rivals or others prominent in her life. Most of the human figures are white though some, particularly in fight scenes but also in family groupings, display a range of skin tones.
A grand and stirring tale for readers not quite ready for Tony Lee and Sam Hart’s Pirate Queen (2019). (timeline, additional facts) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)