Sunday, June 16, 2024
The Pirates Next Door

The Pirates Next Door

by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by Jonny Duddle

The Jolley-Rogers – a pirate family, are moving to Dull-on-Sea, a quiet seaside town. Stopping to fix up their ship, this unusual family get the whole neighbourhood spreading rumours. Defying the grown-ups, Matilda from next door decides to become friends with the youngest pirate son. When the Jolley-Rogers leave, the town discovers they were wrong to assume the worst – the pirate clan have buried treasure in everyone’s gardens. Matilda feels sad until she discovers her own treasure – an incredibly exciting new penfriend.

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Make an advertisement to encourage people to visit Dull-on-Sea.
  • Create a prequel for this book. Where did the pirates come from?
  • Think of some speech / thought bubbles to accompany the illustrations.
  • Create an alternative version of the story in which a different family move into the house next door to Tilda’s house (e.g. a group of aliens or a family of astronauts).
  • Retell the story from Tilda’s (or Jim Lad’s) point of view.
  • Write a newspaper article about the arrival of an unusual family in Dull-on-Sea.
  • Create some character profiles for the members of Jim Lad’s family.
  • Write a story about the time that Grandpa’s hand was chopped off by the King.
  • Carry out some role-play activities based on the characters in the book. Carry out some interviews to find out how each character feels at different points in the story.
  • Write a list of similarities and differences between Jim Lad and ‘normal’ girls and boys. Why do Tilda’s family want her to be friends with normal children?
  • Make a list of the pirate words and phrases that Jim Lad uses, and don’t forget to download our free ‘How to Talk Like a Pirate’ resource.
  • Write a persuasive letter to the council from the point of view of one of the residents of Dull-on-Sea, in which they explain how they feel about the arrival of this strange family.
  • Write a note from Tilda to Jim Lad after he has moved on to a new place.
  • Plan and write a story about a new adventure that the Jolley-Rogers have.
  • Imagine that Tilda stowed away on the Jolley-Rogers’ ship when they left. Write a diary entry from her point of view.
  • Write some thank you (or apology) letters from the residents of Dull-on-Sea to the pirate family.
  • Write a newspaper article about the unexpected gifts.


  • The population of Dull-on-Sea is 2222 and the average age is 67. Can you find out these statistics for towns and cities in your local area? Could you use this information to create graphs, charts and word problems?


  • Design a game with a pirate theme.

Design Technology

  • Create a model of the Jolley-Rogers’ ship.


  • Look at the illustration on the first two pages of the story. Can you create your own picture to show what a place looks like in summer and in winter?
  • Draw an illustrated (and labelled) cross-section of the Jolley-Rogers’ ship.
  • Practise drawing pirates using the tips in this video:


  • Can you find and sing some sea shanties?
  • Could you compose your own pirate sea shanty?


  • Create a map of Dull-on-Sea and add labels to show the locations of the places mentioned in the story. Can you add your own ideas too?


  • Can you find out more about the history of pirates?


  • Dull-on-Sea is twinned with ‘Ennui-sur-Mer’. Can you find out what this means?


  • Mrs Bevan collects a petition with the signatures of people who want the pirates to go away. What is a petition? What impact do they have? Could you find a petition that you might be interested in ‘signing’? If you could set up a petition about something, what would it be?
  • The pirates leave something nice for the residents of Dull-on-Sea. Can you think of other ways that they could have shown the people that pirates ‘aren’t so bad’? Could the residents have responded to the arrival of the pirates in a different way?

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