Book Title Nordseepirat (Pirates of the North Sea)
Author(s) Robert Harrell
Illustrator(s) Benjamin Robinson, Huy Luong
Other Contributors N/A
Published by Compelling Input Productions
Publication date 2012
#Ownvoices N/A
From the author/publisher’s website
Level 2/3
Unique Word Count Unknown

Illustrations                    YES 
Glossary                          YES (but not full) 
Guiding Questions       YES  
Context                            YES  
Other                                Maps and picture dictionary

Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities
White, German, American

Languages spoken
German, (minimal) Plattdeutsch, (minimal) English

Sex and Genders
Male – all protagonists, Females – Geoff’s girlfriend and pirate’s wife

Teenager, Adults

Social classes
Pirates are Working class, Noblemen of the Hansa cities are upper class
Sexual Orientation



Family Structures

Body Type
Athletic, Curvy, Non-curvy

From the author/publisher’s website 

Geoff and his girlfriend’s little brother are bodyboarding when Geoff is caught by a wave and carried to the North Sea in the year 1400. There he meets the (in)famous pirate Klaus Stoertebeker, experiences life as the ship’s cabin boy, and even lives part of the legend. Join Geoff as he learns about a pirate’s life at sea and on land, becomes friends with the “Red Devil” and faces death by beheading.

To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

The illustrations portray Geoff as a fair-skinned, light-haired young man. He is represented in situations of danger, working or relaxing on the ship.

The Pirates are portrayed as white with a wide variety of facial features and body types. They are represented working on the ship, drinking, raiding an enemy ship, and being beheaded (non graphic).
We understand identities are complex and no single story represents the spectrum of identity-based experiences. Also, a text may address a stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization without relying on it.

Does any stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization affect any positive and thoughtful representations of identities in the text?


This section is for teachers who are working towards sourcing more texts within the four domains of anti-bias education. We are excited about reading all books and we understand that not all books are written for this specific purpose. 

Does this text work toward goals within any of the four domains of anti-bias education as defined by Teaching Tolerance

Justice: Raise awareness of prejudice and injustice

Robert Harrel tells the story of Klaus Stoertebeker and the Victual Brothers through the eyes of an American teenage boy, Geoff, who travels through time back to 1400. The story starts with a riveting legend about the famous pirate, and then takes a deep dive into his journeys, his daily life, and his end. 

Harrell does not paint the stereotypical portrait of a pirate: Stoertebeker was a family man and a devout Christian. He and his men looted ships from the Hanse to distribute goods back to the poor. Throughout the book, the author develops a nuanced portrayal of Stoertebeker through the many questions young Geoff has about his captain and his new life as a pirate: how can one go to church and also steal? How can one carry sacred relics and also kill people? How can one be “God’s friend and also enemy of the world”?  (pp.34-35) These are interesting questions the teacher could explore further. 

Thorough and thoughtful research has been done for this book, as evidenced by the details the author inserted into the story about the clothing, the ship, the language, and the daily lives of the pirates. At the end of the book, students can read more historical context in English, and look at maps and illustrations of clothing, weapons, and ships of that time. The story contains many terms that are specific to piracy, sailing, and the Middle Ages, and may require some front-loading of vocabulary by the teacher to ensure maximum comprehension. Thought-provoking, AP Theme-aligned questions in German are also provided for discussion. 

The teacher may also note that all protagonists are male, and that the female characters in the story are only portrayed as wives and girlfriends. The noblemen of the Hanse cities are painted as greedy and dishonest (pp. 2-4), and this characterization is contextualized with historical information about the shifting allegiances and conflicts of the age. The crimes of the pirates are punished quite mercilessly (p. 49).

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