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Pirate Reading Scheme

Follow the words with your finger... or hook.Of all the primary school reading scheme books (Janet and John, Peter and Jane, Ant and Bee) the best loved (and therefore, presumably, most effective) were EJ Arnold and Sons’ Griffin and Dragon pirate stories. Written by Sheila K McCullagh and illustrated with Mary Geraut’s lush watercolours, the simple sentences detailed the maritime adventures of Benjamin the Blue (the blonde, dashing hero), Roderick the Red (hearty, slightly stout) and Gregory the Green (lanky, slightly devious), sailing away to sea in search of colour-coded gemstones, encountering merpeople and griffins along the way. The threesome’s uneasy co-existence often fell apart as Benjamin, initially, was the one with the ship, and the others, being pirates and all, kept trying to nick it. The later Dragon series took things a stage further, with black pirates, seahorses and The Princess Who Wanted the Moon. It was all a delightful way to escape the confines of a rain-battered classroom of a Wednesday afternoon. With your fingers under the words, of course.



  1. Danforth

    September 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    *goosebumps* Wow. I remember these now. Our school mainly used the Ladybird Key Word Reading Scheme with Peter and Jane (although they were getting on a bit by then and the year below us were given something else) but a lot of us were going through the books at a rate of knots, so the teachers pulled these out. Great stuff. I’d be disappointed when the Griffin didn’t show, though, especially with his above-the-line billing…

  2. Kitten in a Brandy Glass

    September 30, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Benjamin the Blue was a bit of a hottie, no?

    Okay, just me, then.

  3. Roy Harrison

    November 23, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    If memory serves correct Roderick the Red would like Rubys, Gregory the Green Emeralds, Benjamin the Blue, Saphires due to the obvious colour link. The young reader would usually lean towards the more dashing cut of a faintly Germanic in apperance, Benjamin the Blue as the hero of these series of books
    Hats off to the author who got much milage from the three primary colours probably still kicking around in some schools attics somewhere.

  4. nona

    May 15, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I adored this books. (And yes, Kitten, I did fancy Benjamin the Blue). They got more and more complex, and ended up with a whole set based around something called The Silver Chain, which only had Benjamin in, and had wizards and mysterious witches and was pretty much the first fantasy book I ever read. I bought The Silver Chain recently and I still loved it

  5. Ben L

    December 5, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    My sister was reading these books when I was born…I was named after Benjamin the Blue!

  6. Jules Everest

    December 12, 2012 at 7:01 am

    glad other people remember these too ! I loved them. If I remember the different pirates were different reading levels ? I favoured Roderick as I think this level was the hardest (Benjamin being the lowest level). Good times !

  7. Stephen M

    December 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I remember these books too. Some time ago now but they really inspired me to read. I was at infant school in the 60’s and these stories are, apart from the ‘Ladybird’ collection, my first reading books.

  8. Vrex 622

    February 14, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I also loved these books at junior school, made a deep impression on me,maybe that’s why I ended up as a fisherman ,not many openings as a pirate in the UK in those days lol. I have just bought Acrooacree and even after all these years its still great!. I love the bit where Ben finally finds the fabled island of Acrooacree….He did not feel happy,and he did not feel sad.He just stood very still,and looked across the sea towards Acrooacree,and said to himself,over and over again,’Acooacree,I have found Acooacree….

  9. Errol or Mr M.

    January 29, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I used the series of books with the children I taught in the Seventies.I have the full reading scheme and intend to use them with my grandchildren who are pre readers but I am already in the process of producing flash cards based upon the first few books in the scheme. Great illustrations with matching text,along with Mermaids, Mermen and mythical creatures. I also used the Tom and Tobias books which were equally appealing but for an older age group.

  10. Andy C

    June 9, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    I have books 2, 3 & 4. I’m currently in the process of scanning them and producing some PDFs. Is anyone able to help me out with scans of the others? I’d really like the full set to read with my little girl, they are pretty hard to come by these days. Thanks, Andrew

  11. Joanne Gray

    May 8, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    In the 70s, we had Dick and Dora and their pets Fluff (a cat) and Nip (a dog). They were very effective for those learning to read, but my parents and grandparents taught me to read when I was two so I found reading lessons in Infant One rather boring as I was already reading at Junior Six level and was moved up to Infant Two after a few weeks (leaving behind all the friends I’d made and feeling intimidated by the Infant Two kids who were a whole year older than me).

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