Pirate Queen: A Story of Zheng Yi Sao (Hardcover)

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Pirate Queen: A Story of Zheng Yi Sao Cover Image
By Helaine Becker, Liz Wong (Illustrator)
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Staff Reviews

As the father of a young girl, I’m always on the look out for empowering narratives that will help my daughter realize her full potential, and Pirate Queen: A story of Zheng Yi Sao really checks all the boxes.  Stolen from her family in the middle of the night and forced into marriage, Zheng Yi Sao perhaps isn't dealt the best hand by fate, but does that hold her back? No. Six years after her abduction, her husband dies and she doesn’t waste a moment.  “Before my husband’s body slipped under the waves, I took command of the fleet.”  Move over Magic Tree House!  This is what I’m talking about!
In reality, by the age of 32, Sao had command of a fleet of 1,800 ships and over 70,000 men. Her story is far too fantastic to detail much further here without ruining her little-known story, but rest assured, you haven’t heard the half of it.
This book is not just well-told, but also wonderfully illustrated by Liz Wong, with details that add to the story. Helaine Becker gives us a terrific and thrilling story for our children, with the welcome addition of a brief but more adult biography to the end of the book.

— From Matt


The most powerful pirate in history was a woman who was born into poverty in Guangzhou, China, in the late 1700s. When pirates attacked her town and the captain took a liking to her, she saw a way out. Zheng Yi Sao agreed to marry him only if she got an equal share of his business. When her husband died six years later, she took command of the fleet.

Over the next decade, the pirate queen built a fleet of over 1,800 ships and 70,000 men. On land and sea, Zheng Yi Sao's power rivaled the emperor himself. Time and again, her ships triumphed over the emperor's ships.

When she was ready to retire, Zheng Yi Sao surrendered -- on her own terms, of course. Even though there was a price on her head, she was able to negotiate her freedom, living in peace and prosperity for the rest of her days.

Zheng Yi Sao's powerful story is told in lyrical prose by award-winning author Helaine Becker. Liz Wong's colorful, engaging illustrations illuminate this inspiring woman in history.

An author's note provides historical context and outlines the challenges of researching a figure about whom little is known.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781773061245
ISBN-10: 1773061240
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2020
Pages: 36
Language: English
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