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Pirates: Most Wanted    by John Matthews order for
by John Matthews
Order:  USA  Can
Atheneum, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The front cover features a large skull and crossbones, with a bright green faceted jewel in one eye socket. The back cover shows a bloody sword below a 'Be ye warned!' notice about the contents of this book - that tells of 'some of the wickedest scoundrels ever to have sailed the seven seas ...'

They're all here, all thirteen of them (including three women): Henry Morgan, William Dampier, Jean Bart, William Kidd, Thomas Tew, Henry Avery, Ned Low, Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard), Samuel Bellamy (Black Sam), Bartholomew Roberts (Black Bart), Charlotte de Berry, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read.

Each of this infamous crew gets his or her own two page spread. There's a brief account of their life and times, plus tidbits on topics like Kidd's Treasure or the layout of a Pirate Sloop. Separate sections cover the contents of the Captain's Cabin, where these villains hung out (Pirate Haunts), and (at the very back) a Little Book of Pirate Records to be opened and perused.

Terms like astrolabe are explained, while sidebars cover topics like Pirate Flags. Numerous illustrations and photos bring the past alive, and young readers will enjoy extras like the origin of the word barbecue and the identity of the castaway who inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Any young scoundrel will devour Pirates: Most Wanted.

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