by Peter Carter
illustrated by Korky Paul
ISBN (PB) 0192722301
ISBN (HB) 0192798693
Oxford University Press

shopping basket Hardback


Captain Teachum was a pirate. He said.

He was the wickedest pirate in the world - he said.

He attacked castles, he captured ships, he made people walk the plank - he said.

He buried his treasure. He said. He buried his treasure in ruined castles, on desert islands, in jungles. He buried it all over the world.

But Captain Teachum had three secrets...

Captain Teachum is a complex character who has three guilty secrets, all of which reveal themselves gradually to the close reader of pictures, like clues in a detective novel, or as a mounting climax for those who prefer to be taken by surprise. The relationship between the text and the richly humorous paintings is overtly ironic and provides the biggest clue of all. 'Captain Teachum was a pirate. He said. He was the wickedest pirate in the world - he said.' The layout is adventurous and as daring as the protagonist claims to be. The style combines a vigorous wiry line and swaggering swish-swash of vibrant inks. I ask you though, if you observe the great man in his hammock sipping iced drinks, spot the heart-shaped tattoo on his arm and the sexy luxuriant tuft under it, wonder at the flowers on the fo'c'sle and the patched sails, would you believe a word he said?

One of the best books I've seen this year is CAPTAIN TEACHUM'S BURIED TREASURE, in which the horrendously fierce Captain Teachum, incomplete with wooden leg and eye-patch, proud possessor of a certificate of good piracy and Y-fronts emblazoned with the skull and crossbones, regales the reader with tales of life on the high seas, capturing ships and making his enemies walk the plank. But soon it becomes plain that Teachum has made up all the stories to hide the awful truth - that he has 25 children and his wife makes him do the washing-up. He has also forgotten where he buried the treasure (if he had ever had any). Captain Teachum is a masterly piece of story-telling, wonderfully illustrated by Korky Paul who has created the untidiest pirate ship ever seen, with stacks of washing-up, patched sails and barrels of unhappy-looking fish. It quite restores one's faith in modern children's fiction.

Perhaps Captain Teachum will remember what he did with the treasure and make a comeback. In the meantime here is a book that satisfactorily combines elements of fantasy with everyday life and can be read at least 10 times (always a consideration for parents) without making you want to scream.
THE SUNDAY TIMES 12 NOV 89, Carolyn Hart

Turn the clock back to your innocence but enjoy the 'wickedness' of a pirate bold. Captain Teachum is your man! If you look carefully, the tell-tale signs are there: the cat-o'-nine tails, eyepatch, wooden leg and hairy armpits. Author and illustrator have complemented each other to produce a memorable book.

Korky Paul has climbed into the skin of a child and hasn't missed an opportunity to convey the all-action baddy. You may have seen his previous work in The Children's Book Award Winner, WINNIE THE WITCH. I enjoyed spotting the details but this book would also be ideal to read to a class. It would encourage lots of discussion and provide inspiration for making treasure maps and devising original hiding-places.

We are encouraged to investigate the humour and cleverness of the illustrations by simple statements about how wicked Captain Teachum is, until we are told of his three secrets: his wife makes him do the washing-up, he has twenty-five children and an awful memory. So maybe we can find some of his missing treasure - while we are young.
THE ESSEX REVIEW VOL 2, ISSUE 15 AUTUMN 90, Eileen Jousiffe, Buckhurst Hill Primary School, West Sussex

CAPTAIN TEACHUM'S BURIED TREASURE may still be buried somewhere. He said. How he burned cities, sank ships and otherwise did pirate mischief is pictured for us in minute detail, which does more to amuse than scare even the youngest.

From the endpapers tattered Jolly Roger to the title pages peg-legged, eye-patched captain, the pages are over-loaded with illustrator Korky Paul's pirate stuff, all drawn with a fine line and animated with transparent watercolors. Small mountains of treasure chests spilling vast quantities of jewels, a parchment treasure map with greek-ish and Latin-like labels. Strange machines, a pot-bellied villain with a shrewish wife add fun for all ages.

For the first third of this book, Captain Teachum seems an extraordinarily violent and successful pirate. For the next third he seems extraordinarily resourceful about burying his vast treasure. The last third shows his three secrets: an even stronger wife, hordes of children, and an appalling memory - so he has forgotten where the treasure is. That and the repeated refrain of 'he said' indicates that Captain Teachum may incline towards Baron Munchausen in his attitude to the truth.

Peter Carter's simple text is itself resourceful. It complements Korky Paul's wild and inventive pictures perfectly. Even when Captain Teachum is exposed for the old fraud he is, he still wears a smile of irrepressible cunning. A lovely production which will give great pleasure.

Rating: Highly recommended Illustrations: (Brilliant!) The wonderfully detailed illustrations of Korky Paul will immediately attract a child's attention and are undoubtedly the striking feature of this intriguing book. We are introduced to Captain Teachum who claims to be ³The wickedest pirate in the world² but can we really believe everything he says? Firing his blunderbuss from the crow's nest of his galleon, he attacks castles single-handed and captures fleets of ships whose crews inexplicably surrender to the bold Captain Teachum - or could it be that they are in awe of his ship's voluptuous figurehead! This wooden-legged pyromania destroys entire towns. Brandishing his cat-o'-nine tails, this terror of the seven seas forces the toughest of tattooed sailors to walk the plank, whilst humanely providing a non-swimming member of the crew with arm-bands - a nice touch! Even the ship's rats suffer the indignity of being blind-folded by the Captain's accomplice - a ginger moggy sporting a patch over his right eye!

Needless to say, the bold Teachum accumulates an impressive horde of treasure.

The reader is presented with a fascinating roll of parchment on which the captain charts his voyage through the 'Mare Equis Mare', around the 'Promentorium Vulturis' and the 'Promentorium Dentium Fatsium' before heading on into the teeth of the east wind! Children will no doubt enjoy finding the locations of the treasure chests which is something that the forgetful Teachum never succeeds in doing. We see the skull and crossbows flying at both the North and South Poles as the captain, with snow-shoes strapped to his wooden leg, buries yet more treasure. How amusing to see the upside-down penguins who watch bemused as our captain conceals his treasure chests in a circular hole at the bottom of the world.

Having marvelled at the exploits of this intrepid pirate we discover that, in the privacy of his own galley, he is, in reality, a hen-pecked husband. His wife makes him to the washing-up and, as he sits on deck mending the sails, he is surrounded by his twenty-five children - the perfect father!

This beautifully presented book should appeal to five to seven year olds who will be enthralled by the delightful illustrations.