Pyro Watson and the Hidden Treasure, by Nette Hilton

Pyro Watson clutched his blanket tightly to him. It wasn’t going to change anything, no matter how hard he held on. the old camper still swayed and rocked in the night wind. The ocean still hissed and roared and slugged its waves to the beach. The rocks still shone as darkly and the moon still lurked behind dark clouds.
Auntie Mor and Mr Stig still snored at the back of the van.
And Mum, who said Auntie Maureen could have made things easier if she’d just stopped tripping around for ten days so they could all get better organised, was still all the way across the Nullabor looking after Nan.

Pyro has been sent to stay with his aunt in a campervan while his mother tends to his grandmother. He’s not expecting to enjoy it at all. And with the campervan rocking in the wind on a dark, dark night, Pyro is sure the next ten days will be the longest in his life. He calls up his love of pirates and escapes to another dimension where he is San Simeon, captain of his own pirate ship. San Simeon is brave and adventurous, and has the loyalty of his crew. His adventures include an ongoing battle with his arch-enemy, Roaring Roy Bistro, and the liberation of a golden-haired maiden, Calamity. But a captain’s life is a lonely one too, and San Simeon struggles with the possibility of traitors in his crew. Like San Simeon, Pyro feels alone and unsure of himself. His best friend, Geezer is back at home, he can’t swim and he’s stuck here with two almost-strangers.

Pyro Watson and the Hidden Treasure features two stories side-by-side. There’s the ‘real’ story of Pyro’s time by the beach in the caravan park and the parallel adventures of his alter-ego San Simeon. The pirate adventure is differentiated by a different font as Pyro daydreams his way through his adventure. Sometimes the real life informs the action of the daydream, sometimes the daydream offers the solution to his real life dilemmas. Pyro discovers that he is not alone in anything. There are new friends to be made, common ground to be found with his aunt and her friend, Mr Stig, bullies to be thwarted, and traitors to be identified and routed. Themes include friendship, trust, bullying and family. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

Pyro Watson and the Hidden Treasure

Pyro Watson and the Hidden Treasure, Nette Hilton ill Gregory Rogers Woolshed Press 2009 ISBN: 9781741664164

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review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author