Charles Island treasure is inspiration for new children’s book

The legend of Captain Kidd’s treasure is the focal point of a new middle grade children’s book, Pirate Island, by Milford-born writer Katie L. Carroll.

For centuries, Milford’s Charles Island has been the speculative site of the infamous Captain William Kidd’s buried treasure.

Living at times in New York and Boston, the Scottish-born Captain Kidd was hanged in London in 1701 for piracy. But before being captured in Boston, Captain Kidd purportedly left buried treasure on Charles Island while fleeing English bounty hunters.

Carroll will speak about her book and the legend that inspired her children’s story at a free presentation from 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, at the Milford Library.

Those attending will have the opportunity to learn about the local pirate lore that inspired the story, win a prize at a fishing game, and snap a picture at the photo booth.

There will also be signed books for sale as well as light refreshments.

The book is set in a town on Long Island Sound where Billy and Andy, lifelong childhood friends, decide to seek buried riches on off-limits Pirate Island, accessible by foot from shore only at low tide.

Billy thinks it’s just another one of Andy’s crazy adventures, but it is he who ends up in trouble, having nevertheless gone along for the ride.

Despite his doubts, the more Billy delves into the life and death of Captain Kidd, the more he thinks the treasure is real and that it might be buried on the small island in Long Island Sound.

Billy – nope, call him William – becomes obsessed with the captain of the same first name and comes to believe he is possessed by Kidd’s restless soul. Now he and the spirit of a long-dead pirate are leading the crazy adventure on Pirate Island.

And what Billy, nay William, and Andy find is far bigger than the treasure they imagined.

Milford Island is real-life inspiration

Carroll noted that Charles Island and the sandbar leading out to it are iconic parts of Milford. “Growing up, I heard the stories of buried pirate treasure there.

“Along with many local residents at some point in their lives, I walked along the sandbar and out to the island. It caught my imagination when I was young and stayed with me into adulthood.

“When I started writing books for kids, it was an obvious source of inspiration,” Carroll said last week. “Once I started researching deeper into the island and its history, I realized there was so much more to it than pirate treasure.”

Pirate Island on its surface is an adventure story, but deep down all stories are more than the actions that make up the plot, she continued.

“Billy, the main character, is 13 year old and on the cusp of entering eighth grade. It’s a time in a kid’s life when there is a lot of change going on. The world is becoming bigger, and the dynamics of old relationships with families and friends are changing, too.

“Sometimes you grow out of those friendships you once counted on, and Pirate Island is as much about Billy allowing himself — and in turn, his friends and family — to grow into the person he wants to be as it is about a fun adventure to find pirate treasure.”