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Groundwood Books

Pirate Queen

A Story of Zheng Yi Sao

Written by Helaine Becker • Illustrated by Liz Wong

For kids 6 - 9 years old | Published March 01, 2020 | ISBN 9781773061245

Cover of Pirate Queen

Regular price $17.95 CAD

36 pages | 8.875 in × 6.5 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

Pirate Queen

A Story of Zheng Yi Sao

Helaine Becker • Liz Wong

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

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

Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.

Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.

Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

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).

Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

About the Creators

Helaine Becker

Helaine Becker is an award-winning author who has written over eighty books for children. Her picture books include You Can Read, illustrated by Mark Hoffmann; Sloth at the Zoom, illustrated by Orbie; and Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. She has also written non-fiction, chapter books and poetry. She is a two-time recipient of the Lane Anderson Award and a winner of the Silver Birch Award and the Bank Street College of Education Cook Prize. Helaine lives in Toronto.

Liz Wong

Liz Wong was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she spent her early childhood painting and clambering about in mango trees. Winning the first-place trophy in her elementary school poster contest encouraged her to pursue art instead of a sensible career in finance like the rest of her family. Liz holds a BFA in art and a BA in anthropology from the University of Washington and currently resides in Edmonds, Washington, with her husband and son.

Awards and Praise

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

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

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