Sometimes I forget that, as a twenty-nine-year-old who passes quite well for a proper adult, I’m not exactly the target audience for The Phoenix comic. Not that it matters. As with so many other things – Harry Potter, the Avatar and Korra cartoon series – it’s proof that there’s no age limit on good storytelling, and every week, I happily sit down to catch up on Bunny versus Monkey and Corpse Talk.
Thanks to my Phoenix subscription, I’ve read a lot of Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron’s other comics, but I subscribed a little too late to catch their collaborative work, Pirates of Pangaea. When I heard that David Fickling Books was publishing a collected volume, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a review copy, because come on – pirates and dinosaurs in the same story. What’s not to love?
I read the book in one dinosaur-sized gulp. The heroine, Sophie, travels to the newly-discovered island of Pangaea to live with her uncle, the Governor – but as soon as she arrives, her ship (hoisted onto the back of a sauropod to travel across the island’s perilous ‘Sea of Green’) is captured by pirates. Meeting the young kidnapee Timothy Kelsey and a slightly less dastardly pirate, Ten Gun Jones, Sophie escapes the pirates, survives in the wild, and trains her own dinosaur, a bright blue Tyrannosaurus Rex she dubs Cornflower.
Pirates of Pangaea is everything that my inner eight-year-old wants in a story – a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails heroine, a beautifully imaginative setting, and a strongly-built world. Hartwell and Cameron have thought of every potential aspect of a society where humans and dinosaurs live alongside each other, from the ways dinosaurs are worked, to the slang people use to describe them (“long-necks”, “tyrants” and “razorbeaks”, to name but a few). Treasure Island meets Jurassic Park, Pirates of Pangaea is a thrilling and compelling read that will appeal to children both official and unofficial, and I can’t wait for the next volume.
Alice’s books are available on Amazon and Smashwords. Her webcomic, co-created and illustrated by Emily Brady, can be found at the Footloose website. Ally rambles about writing, feminism, and odd questions that cross her mind on Twitter and Facebook.