Pirate Queen

Pirate Queen

A Story of Zheng Yi Sao

Written by: Becker, Helaine
Illustrated by: Wong, Liz
ages 6 to 9 / grades 1 to 4

An inspiring story of Zheng Yi Sao, the real-life pirate queen who took control of her life — and the South China seas — in the early 19th century.

The most powerful pirate in history was a woman who was born into poverty in Guangzhou, China, in the late 1700s. When pirates attacked her town and the captain took a liking to her, she saw a way out. Zheng Yi Sao agreed to marry him only if she got an equal share of his business. When her husband died six years later, she took command of the fleet.

Over the next decade, the pirate queen built a fleet of over 1,800 ships and 70,000 men. On land and sea, Zheng Yi Sao’s power rivaled the emperor himself. Time and again, her ships triumphed over the emperor’s ships.

When she was ready to retire, Zheng Yi Sao surrendered — on her own terms, of course. Even though there was a price on her head, she was able to negotiate her freedom, living in peace and prosperity for the rest of her days.

Zheng Yi Sao’s powerful story is told in lyrical prose by award-winning author Helaine Becker. Liz Wong’s colorful, engaging illustrations illuminate this inspiring woman in history.

An author’s note provides historical context and outlines the challenges of researching a figure about whom little is known.

Key Text Features
author’s note
historical context
sources

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

An inspiring story of Zheng Yi Sao, the real-life pirate queen who took control of her life — and the South China seas — in the early 19th century.

The most powerful pirate in history was a woman who was born into poverty in Guangzhou, China, in the late 1700s. When pirates attacked her town and the captain took a liking to her, she saw a way out. Zheng Yi Sao agreed to marry him only if she got an equal share of his business. When her husband died six years later, she took command of the fleet.

Over the next decade, the pirate queen built a fleet of over 1,800 ships and 70,000 men. On land and sea, Zheng Yi Sao’s power rivaled the emperor himself. Time and again, her ships triumphed over the emperor’s ships.

When she was ready to retire, Zheng Yi Sao surrendered — on her own terms, of course. Even though there was a price on her head, she was able to negotiate her freedom, living in peace and prosperity for the rest of her days.

Zheng Yi Sao’s powerful story is told in lyrical prose by award-winning author Helaine Becker. Liz Wong’s colorful, engaging illustrations illuminate this inspiring woman in history.

An author’s note provides historical context and outlines the challenges of researching a figure about whom little is known.

Key Text Features
author’s note
historical context
sources

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd - Mar 1, 2020
Specifications 36 pages | 6.5 in x 8.875 in

Praise for Helaine Becker, Liz Wong and Pirate Queen:

“[Helaine Becker’s] writing is clear, straightforward, and riveting.” — The Children’s Bookroom Blog

“Though Helaine Becker is a versatile writer of picture books, early readers, middle grade fiction, and non-fiction, I think she has outdone herself in this story of the Pirate Queen.” — CanLit for Little Canadians Blog

“The combination of subtle text and expressive pictures weaves a convincing tale filled with emotion and conveys a sense of place that transports readers back to China at the turn of the nineteenth century.” — Pirates and Privateers Blog


Praise for Helaine Becker, Dow Phumiruk and Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13:

“A picture-book biography of a humble genius who excelled in a career once out of reach for most African-Americans. An excellent biography that will inspire young readers, especially girls, to do what they love.” — Kirkus, starred review

“Featuring engaging text and captivating illustrations, this picture book introduces the amazing life of mathematician Katherine Johnson to young readers. Sure to inspire a new generation of mathematicians.” — School Library Journal

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Praise for Liz Wong and The Goose Egg:

“Rendered in a soft palette using watercolors, colored pencils, and gouache, Wong offers a gentle story of imprinting, to be sure, but more so a story of finding love where and when it’s least expected.” — School Library Journal, starred review

“A captivating and endearing life lesson.” — Booklist, starred review

“A sweet tale.” — Kirkus Reviews