Quick, what’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word pirate? If you are like me, what comes to mind is a swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow (a la Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean). So when I heard that PicPocket Books had a storybook app about a pirate that my daughter might like, I thought someone might be confused about how old my daughter was or what she would be allowed to read at the tender age of four-and-a-half. My concerns were unfounded as the pirate tale follows the magical adventures of Penelope the Purple Pirate and her crew of animal friends. The author, Melissa Northway, was inspired one night after hearing her husband spin a yarn about Red Beard and his adventures with Kate (the author’s daughter). Melissa immediately set about writing her storybook about Penelope the Purple Pirate and the result is delightful.
Penelope captivates young readers with her imagination and sense of fair play. The protagonist may be a pirate, but she’s all about having fun with her friends and sharing in the treasures they discover. Melissa managed to also weave into this story a lesson on disability so naturally that I did not even realize the lesson was in the plot until we reached the questions after the story. Besides questions aimed at getting children (and a few parents) to think more in-depth about the plot, there are also facts about pirates and Penelope’s sea creature friends: an octopus, a dolphin, and a sea turtle. It’s an endearing story about what kids do best with a few props; imagine an entire world of their own. The app version of the story also has easy page swipes, lots of hidden sounds for little fingers to discover, and is narrated by a girl; earning extra credibility with young listeners. Reina (my daughter) loves the story and has listened to it many times.
One nice bonus about Penelope the Purple Pirate is that Melissa didn’t stop with just a storybook and an app; she has created Penelope stickers, bookmarks, a tote bag, activity pages on her website www.melissanorthway.com, and she takes the time to answer messages from young fans on her website and Facebook pages. Melissa also has a soft spot for expats as she herself spent three glorious years teaching English in Japan. With this in mind, Melissa has sent a veritable treasure chest of Penelope booty to Beijing Kids Magazine to share with a lucky Beijing family as this week’s Mid-week Give Away. The booty includes a signed copy of her book, a Penelope canvas tote bag, bookmarks, stickers, pirate coins, and a promo code for the app for the iPhone or iPad. Arrrre you excited? Check out the link here for the contest.
Penelope the Purple Pirate app is available for immediate download at iTunes for the iPhone and iPad for $1.99, and is also available as a paper-based and/or audio storybook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Tales2Go, Powell’s (world’s greatest bookstore!), and Be There Bedtime Stories.