Click on the image to see a larger version


Illustrated by Steve Cox

When Oscar and Lily find a secret treasure map, they set sail in search of adventure. But the dastardly Captain Claw wants that treasure too, and his pirate submarine is soon on their trail . . .

An action-packed pirate adventure to delight young children.

"There's no resisting a picture book that stops off halfway through to become a fold-out technical cutaway of a gargantuan pirate submarine ... Hugely likeable seafaring hi-jinks"


"There are a lot of pirate-related picture books out there, some better than others, but you can rest assured that this is one that is worth reading."



UK Hardcover • ISBN-10: 184616740X • ISBN-13: 978-1846167409
UK Paperback • ISBN-10: 1846167418 • ISBN-13: 978-1846167416

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Oscar and Lily were originally pigs and Lily was a cat for a while, but both characters eventually became dogs.

After finishing Pigs Might Fly, illustrator Steve Cox and I were keen to do another book together. Steve has a flair for drawing technology and one of the most appealing things about our first book was his wonderful aeroplane designs. So I asked him if there was another type of technology that he’d like to illustrate for this second book. Steve said he’d always fancied doing a book about submarines and, thinking that it might be a sequel to the first book, even came up with a suitable title - Pigs Might Swim!

However the new story did not turn out to be a sequel and although Oscar and Lily were drawn as pigs in Steve’s first sketches, they eventually metamorphosed into dogs. I'd originally suggested the characters should have contrasting appearances to match their personalities, with Oscar being small, quiet and studious, while Lily was large, loud and flamboyant. But again, as the book developed, their sizes and appearances evolved to become those of the final illustrations.

Steve's early sketch of Claw’s crocodile-like sub.

The book features a gatefold which opens out to reveal a cutaway of the sub. (Click the image to see a larger version)

The dastardly Captain Claw was inspired by a crafty crocodile that Steve had sketched for another unpublished story. I liked the look of him so much that I wanted a crocodile to be the villain in this book.

The story was written around Captain Claw's crocodile-like pirate submarine and, while the character sketches were revised several times, Steve’s first sketch for the sub was so instantly appealing that it’s almost identical to the final design.

The book was accepted by Orchard Books and its original editor, Kate Burns, recognised the sub’s appeal and suggested that we make the most of it by including the gatefold in the middle of the book which opens out to show the interior of the sub. It’s the sort of wonderfully detailed cutaway drawing that you’d normally only find in a non-fiction book. It feels like a treat to discover it in the middle of a story book and we’re sure that many readers will want to stop and explore the sub fully before moving on.

The map featured on the endpapers of the book was originally illustrated in colour, but converted to sepia to reduce printing costs.
(Click on the image to see a larger version.)

Another little bonus we put into the book is the treasure map on the endpapers. The map was supposed to belong to the first Captain Claw, the great-great-grand-father of the submarine captain. The first Captain had a very sweet tooth, which is why many of the places on the map are named after sweets and other confectionary. It’s also why the treasure map was found in a treacle toffee jar and why the treasure itself turns out to be chocolate coins rather than gold ones. In an early draft of the story. Lily notices that the portrait of the first Captain shows him with wooden teeth (instead of a wooden leg or another piratey prosthetic) and Oscar explains that this is because all the Captain's real teeth had fallen out as a result of all the sweets he'd eaten.




Illustrations © 2011 Steve Cox. Reproduced by permission of Orchard Books.

This is the story of what happens when two dogs, Oscar and Lily, are on holiday together and come across an old treasure map. In their adventurous quest to find the treasure they are captured by pirates but they cleverly manage to outwit them in a way which leads to a laugh-out-loud conclusion to the story!
There are a lot of pirate-related picture books out there, some better than others, but you can rest assured that this is one that is worth reading ... The pirate submarine is brilliantly done, as is the surprise fold out picture which shows you inside the pirate submarine, all the different cabins and the crew and what's going on in each one. You can spend a good ten minutes, or longer, just on that one page looking at everything including lots of little mice hidden around the submarine, and a stowaway cat! ... It bears the re-read test too, and even just that fold out illustration of the pirate submarine is something good to come back to again and again.


There's no resisting a picture book that stops off halfway through to become a fold-out technical cutaway of a gargantuan pirate submarine. This is an adventurous, twisty-turny tale of two easy-going dog pals who discover a treasure map – though when it comes to it they're more interested in snacks than they are in booty. Much more keen is their greedy nemesis, the crocodile Captain Claw, but he's right on course to get his comeuppance. Stinky cheese is involved. Hugely likeable seafaring hi-jinks from the author of Bringing Down the Moon and Pigs Might Fly.


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