Title: Prince Noah and the School Pirates
Author: Silke Schnee
Publisher: Plough Publishing House
# Pages: 29
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (So close to a 4, but the metacommentary hit me funny as a teacher)
Why I Chose This Book: Prince Noah was first introduced in the book The Prince Who Was Just Himself, where readers learn that although he might have been blessed with an extra chromosome (Down’s Syndrome), he is not “different”—he is merely himself. Part of being an advocate for reading is ensuring that all children have access to quality literature that they can learn from and identify with. Educational trends today have shifted towards being highly inclusive, placing students in the least restrictive environment. This means any single classroom will be highly diverse in terms of learning styles and educational needs. What better way to address tolerance and inclusion than through a good story?
It’s time for young Prince Noah to go to school. The prince, who starred in the book The Prince Who Was Just Himself, may be a little slower than other students, but he has no less joy in learning. In his kingdom, children go to school on sailing ships. There is a ship for girls and one for boys. There is a ship for children with an eye patch, a ship for children with one leg, and a ship for children who are slower learners. No one knows why there are so many different ships, but it has always been that way.
Then a terrible storm drives the ships into the hands of pirates. The boys and girls realize that they will only escape if everyone does what he or she does best. Through their adventures, they learn that diversity makes us strong and that every person has something to teach us.
My Thoughts After Reading:
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book at first, but upon receiving it I was pleased to see it was very child friendly from the illustrations to the sturdy construction of the book. Even the story line is well-written with clear descriptions and the quirky language that children love.
Finding quality books that teach tolerance without preaching to parents or going too in-depth with information (that tends to go over children’s heads anyway) is difficult. Prince Noah and the School Pirates is nearly perfect! It is never explicitly said in this book that Noah has Down’s Syndrome (he is, after all, just being himself), and children might not even notice anything different in his behavior. My own children simply laughed and said he was naughty, but they were amused by his antics.
“…who knows what 5+5 is?” the teacher asks. “2!” Noahs answers, holding up 5 fingers (1 hand) plus 5 fingers (another hand) to show his two hands. His brain is not broken, and technically he is correct, but that poor teacher.
There are undertones of commentary on the evolution of the education system to become inclusive rather than separate students based on characteristics such as gender, learning disabilities, or physical ailments, but children merely think it is part of the story (“there is a different ship for… [each type].”)
This brings me to my one complaint as an adult—children won’t mind it. The teachers are made to seem pretty worthless in this book, as they do nothing to fight the pirates or help the children and end up tied to the ship mast. The guards are scared of the children, and no one but the parents seem to understand or care about the children. This generalization seems awfully unfair to educators. While I do not personally have experience with the German school system, I am willing to bet there are many teachers advocating for students with disabilities and attempting to keep students safe from the pirates of the world.
Overall I think this book is a wonderful step in the right direction for the publishing world in providing resources that suit families of all needs, and I think it is a wonderful resource for educators, parents, child centers, and libraries across the world.
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.