The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra

Common Sense Media says

Space-pirate sibling series ideal for Star Wars-crazed kids.

Age(i)

2
3
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5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Get out your map of the solar system and zero in on the asteroid belt, the dwarf planets, Jupiter's moons, and beyond. These privateers get around. Spaceship terminology also is discussed -- much of it overlapping with maritime terms ("amidships" and "belowdecks," for example) and some of it not (like "atmosphere scrubber"). There's a pretty complete glossary in the "aft" of the book and a layout of the ship in the "fore." The life of these privateers will make readers think about what would be needed for whole populations to survive out in space and why a wooden table in the Hashoone family's home is so coveted.

Positive messages

Here's a family that sticks together in a rough business. Grandfather says to Tycho, "The family is the captain....And the captain is the ship." And Tycho adds, "And the ship is family." Teamwork and loyalty are important. There's also much talk about the fine, uncomfortable line between being a privateer and being a pirate. They steal like pirates, but legally, for the Jovian Union if it's an Earth ship.

Positive role models

Tycho, Yana, and Carlo are three kids trying their hardest to impress mom, the ship captain, as they compete to be the next captain. Both of their parents try to help them balance competition with the need for teamwork when the stakes are high.

Violence

A climactic space battle leaves some dead from gunfire, one main character slightly injured, and another losing a hand. An enemy in custody is threatened with hanging. Grandfather Huff has a blaster cannon that can screw onto his wrist, and he often wears it threateningly. A mention that a crewman gets a broken arm in port from a brawl. Mentions of past space battles with casualties, some of them ancestors of the Hashoone family. Mentions that some taken ships have turned captives into slaves.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Huff "uttered a foul oath under his breath." When he shouts his oaths, it's not swearing.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Grandfather gets a "nip of grog" while in port, as do many other space travelers. At home he drinks whiskey. Tycho and Yana try to get into a bar to follow a lead but are shut out. Mention that a retainer belowdecks has a drinking problem. Some in port smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra is the first in a series about a trio of smart siblings in the rough family business of space piracy, or "privateering," as they prefer (there's much talk about the shady legality of it). Kids will learn a bit about the asteroid belt, Jupiter's moons, and beyond, while the siblings learn about being captains of their family's ship. Of course there's a rough element in one port -- some drinking and bar brawls -- and a climactic battle while they're boarding an enemy ship resulting in some deaths, but they are only injuries to major characters.

What's the story?

Tycho, his twin sister, Yana, and their big brother, Carlo, have anything but a normal childhood. Their mom is captain of the Shadow Comet, a space ship full of privateers that take precious cargo from Earth ships somewhat in the name of the Jovian Union. All three are training to be captain one day, but only one will get the job. The fateful day Tycho gets his first trial commanding the ship, it doesn't go at all smoothly. The captain of the enemy ship claims to have an Earth diplomat onboard -- making the ship off-limits -- but something seems fishy. This diplomat looks and sounds no different from your average scuzzy pirate. Tycho makes the call to commandeer the ship and take it to the dwarf planet Ceres for trial. That's when things get complicated for the Shadow Comet. The trail of one fake diplomat leads to some real pirates -- nasty ones -- who only work for themselves.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Oh, man, Star Wars fans are going to be all over THE JUPITER PIRATES. (No surprise the author, Jason Fry, wrote Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Visual Guide.) Three siblings are expert spaceship pilots, two of them solving mysteries in their spare time. Fry builds an intriguing world in his first in the series, gearing kids up for the many space battles to come. The climactic battle in HUNT FOR THE HYDRA is a well-crafted nail-biter. The middle lags a bit -- too many political characters for kids to keep track of -- and some of the transitions are a bit rough, but it'll entertain all the same. A bit more artwork would be very welcome. Readers get a layout of the deck and a very not-to-scale look at some planets and moons. How about a picture of crazy cyborg Grandpa, for starters?

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to make space piracy your family business. Who would be the captain? First mate? Which grandparent would make the best cranky cyborg? At what age would kids be allowed to fly the ship? Who would you want in your boarding party?

  • What did you like best about Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra? Will you keep reading the series? Why or why not? 

  • What did you learn about our solar system from this book? Kids can tell parents all about dwarf planets -- they weren't even named when they were in school.

Book details

Author:Jason Fry
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Pirates, Space and aliens
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harper
Publication date:December 23, 2013
Number of pages:256
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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