Pirate FlagPirates and PrivateersPirate
          Flag
The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425


Home
Pirate Articles
Pirate Links
Book Reviews
Thistles & Pirates

Books for Young Pirates

Backbeard and the Birthday Suit

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

Good Pirate
Greenbeard the Pirate Pig


How I Became a Pirate
How to Pulverize Pirates

Jean Laffite and the Big Ol' Whale

My Pop-Pop is a Pirate

Ned the Knitting Pirate

The Octonauts
On a Pirate Ship

Pajama Pirates
Papa Is a Pirate
Pirate Bob
Pirate Fun
Pirate Girl
Pirate Jigsaw Book
Pirate Nap
 The Pirate, Pink
Pirate Pink and Treasures of the Reef

Pirate Pup
Pirate Pete's Talk Like a Pirate
A Pirate's Life for Me
Pirate Treasure Hunt!
Puzzle Pirates

Shiver Me Letters

The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate
That's Not My Pirate

The Ultimate Pirate Handbook

A Year on a Pirate Ship
StarStarStarStarStar

1001 Pirate Things to Spot

An ABC of Pirates
Are Pirates Polite?Cover Art: Are Pirates Polite?
Are You the Pirate Captain?

Bad Pirate

Battle for the Knotty ListNew review
The Best Pirate

The Castaway Pirates

Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime

Fluffy: Scourge of the Sea

Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies
Henry & the Crazed Chicken Pirates

I Love My Pirate Papa
Inside Jolly Roger's Pirate Ship

A Li’l Pirate’s ABSeas

No Pirates Allowed! Said Library Lou
The Night Pirates

Pirasaurs!
The Pirate Jamboree
Pirate Pete's Giant Adventure

Pirate Santa
Pirate vs. Pirate

Pirate's Perfect Pet
Pirates Don’t Change Diapers

Port Side Pirates!

The Quiet Pirate

Small Saul
See Inside Pirate Ships

Treasure Ship

When You're a Pirate Dog and Other Pirate Poems

Ned the Knitting Pirate
Cover Art: Ned the Knitting Pirate
Ned the Knitting Pirate
By Diana Murray
Illustrated by Leslie Lammle
Roaring Brook, 2016, ISBN 978-1-59643-890-3, US $16.99 / CAN $19.50

The men of the Rusty Heap are rugged and fierce, and they often sing while they work. The only different pirate among them is Ned, who likes to knit and wears a fuzzy hat – two things no self-respecting pirate should do, at least according to the captain. Finally, Ned is given a choice. He must cease knitting or he must walk the plank. In his heart Ned is a pirate, so he packs away needles, yarn, and knitted items, including a blanket bearing a pirate crest. Then one night a sea monster attacks the ship and only Ned has the means to defeat it.

The muted colors and captivating artwork bring this tale for young pirates to life. Ned looks more like a girl than a boy, but perhaps that works best since this is a tale of not quite fitting in and yet being accepted because of his unique skill. The catchy song the pirates sing begs young pirates to join in as the book is read. Ned the Knitting Pirate provides a fresh look at pirate life that demonstrates non-violence is sometimes the best way to thwart an enemy.

 Meet the author
Meet the illustrator
View artwork
 

Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar

Skull and crossbones -- return to
                  top of page

The Ultimate Pirate Handbook
Cover Art: The Ultimate Pirate
                Handbook
The Ultimate Pirate Handbook
By Linda Hamilton
Illustrated by Mathieu Leyssenne and Jason Kraft
Templar Books, 2015, 978-0-7636-7963-7, US $19.99 / CAN $25.99

So you want to be a pirate?

This interactive guide is a handbook for young pirates between the ages of five and eight who want to learn the answers to that question. First up is a pyramid showing who’s who on a pirate ship and who’s most important. Next proceed aboard the vessel where you must learn the different parts of your new home. Of course, with that comes the nitty-gritty about what life at sea is really like from food to bathroom facilities to personal hygiene. Every pirate needs to know what to wear when – going ashore needs fancy duds, while everyday attire is more practical – and don’t forget how to talk like a pirate or to sign the rules that govern all pirates. Defending yourself is equally important, but fighting also requires that you know what to do in case of injury or sickness. To be fair, you also need to know what will happen if the pirate doctor can’t heal you, but at least you’ll be having a wealth of treasure to send home to loved ones. Once you know all this, you get to meet the most famous pirates in history.

Characters pop up, windows open, and envelopes unseal allowing young pirates to explore the life and world of a seadog. The book begins with a warning to all landlubbers – life isn’t always a swashbuckling affair where riches abound. There are also scurvy knaves lurking to steal away that treasure. So beware: This book isn’t for the faint of heart.

Full-fledged pirates (adults), rather than pirate hopefuls or pirate apprentices (children), should be aware of some drawbacks. The font chosen is, at times, difficult to read, especially where the print is small. While the list of crewmembers is one of the most extensive among books like this, it actually is missing one crucial hand – the quartermaster, perhaps the most important pirate on any ship. Young pirates may have trouble finding the head after reading this book, since it says the bathroom is near the stern rather than the bow. Rule five in the articles is a bit of a puzzler, even for an adult pirate. The definition for “dead lights” and “heave” are incorrect, “swaggy” is a modern word not found in dictionaries and never used by pirates, and “wannion” is misspelled. There are also a few historical errors. The chest of medicine Blackbeard received wasn’t for a ship. He held some important citizens and blockaded the whole port of Charleston for ransom. Francis Drake received his knighthood after his circumnavigation of the world seven years before the Spanish armada, rather than for his part in defeating the Spanish invasion force.

In spite of the flaws, this handbook if kind of like a fun hide-and-seek game where the reader must delve into every nook and cranny to find delectable tidbits. The artwork contains a treasure trove of detail that everyone will want to study in great detail to see what they missed the first time.

 
Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar

Skull and crossbones - Return to top of
                        page

Greenbeard the Pirate Pig
Cover Art & Toy: Greenbeard the Pirate Pig
Greenbeard the Pirate Pig
By Andrea Torrey Balsara
First Ideas Publishing, 2012, $19.95
Greenbeard is a guinea pig who faithfully tends his garden, where he grows lettuce and carrots, his two favorite foods. One day the breeze brings the scent of the sea to him, and he dreams of being a pirate. Rather than continue farming, he sets out for the coast and new adventures with his crew – a treasure-loving rat named Snug Rumkin.
 
Greenbeard is a three-chapter paperback full of expressive, colorful pictures that will captivate children. The book is packaged with an eight-inch Greenbeard, complete with pirate regalia, including his carrot sword and green beard of lettuce. At the end of this first book in a series about Greenbeard’s adventures, the author includes the lyrics and music for this guinea pig’s favorite song about himself.

While readers will easily fall in love with their own Greenbeard, the characters, and the artwork, this first tale lacks adventure. It takes us from tending his garden to acquiring a ship, but then leaves us as Greenbeard and Snug Rumkin sail away. There’s the promise of more adventures to come, but a bit of excitement in this first book would ensure that young pirates return for more. Hopefully, the forthcoming book, Greenbeard the Pirate Pig and the Isle of Lost, will fill that void.
Meet the author/illustrator, view the book trailer, and download activity pages
 

Review Copyrighted ©2013 Cindy Vallar


Return to Top
How to Pulverize Pirates
Cover Art: How
                to Pulverize Pirates
How to Pulverize Pirates

By Catherine Leblanc
Illustrated by Roland Garrigue
Insight Kids, 2013, ISBN 978-1-60887-192-6, $14.99
What if pirates want to steal from you? What if pirates land in your hometown? What if pirates seek buried treasure in your house?

Pirates can be scary to young children, and this book provides interesting suggestions as to how they can overcome this fear. For example, they might saw off a pirate’s wooden leg or soap the gangplank so the pirates slip and slide as they disembark from their ship. A page of stickers showcasing some of these notorious villains are included with the book.

There isn’t much of a plot to this story, and while the ideas for overcoming the fear of pirates are amusing and entertaining in the first half of the book, the second half lacks the same inventiveness and humor. Also, few parents will appreciate the last suggestion – if the house is a mess, blame it on the pirates – which seems like odd advice from an author who is a psychologist.

What saves this book are the fabulous illustrations. The fiendish pirates come alive, while the deceptively-innocent children show they have more tricks up their sleeves to pulverize anyone who threatens their safety. Garrigue’s caricatures bring the story to life and spark the imagination. And it’s not every day that a rubber duck defeats the pirates!

Review Copyrighted ©2013 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top
The Pirate, Pink
Cover Art: The
              Pirate, Pink
The Pirate, Pink
By Jan Day
Illustrated by Janeen I. Mason
Pelican Publishing, 2001, ISBN 1-56557-879-5, $15.95
Red Beard regales Pink with tales of being a pirate, so she’s ecstatic when the day comes that he takes her with him. But once at sea, things don’t turn out as she expects. No matter what she does, her father only has time for his gold. Then he threatens an old woman with walking the plank. Pink rescues her from a watery grave, which only angers Red Beard. He explains that a pirate is fierce, and Pink vows to be as bad as she can. But the meaner she becomes, the less she likes being a pirate. Even though she loves her dad, she just can’t be a pirate like him.
 
Written for young pirates, this is a tale of adventure and truth. Each buccaneer must live his own life and have her own dreams. The text provides great opportunities for reading aloud or for youngsters to act out Pink’s adventure, while the colorful illustrations bring the story to life.
View illustrations and read sample pages
Visit the illustrator

Review Copyrighted ©2012 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top
Pirate Pink and Treasures of the Reef
Cover Art:
                Pirate Pink and Treasures of the Reef
Pirate Pink and Treasures of the Reef
By Jan Day
Illustrated by Janeen I. Mason
Pelican Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1-58980-086-9, $15.95
Pirate Pink returns in a new adventure with her best friend, Juan. They head for Turtle Bay to discover what treasure a recent storm has unearthed. After spying a derelict ship, they climb aboard. But this isn’t just any vessel. This is the Barracuda and the nasty Captain Snagg owns her. Juan spots a few gold coins, but when a thorough search fails to turn up more treasure, Pink ventures under water. She soon locates the missing chest, but before they can recover it, Snagg returns. Can they escape this dastardly villain? Who will end up with the treasure?
 
A rainbow of colors illustrate Pink’s tale, from her mother’s attempts to teach her daughter to act like a lady to searching for treasure underwater and facing the fearsome Snagg. This picture book is a treasure trove for young pirates, especially bonnie lasses, filled with vibrant sea life and an audacious scavenger hunt that requires brains, rather than brawn, to escape.
View the artwork and read a sample
Visit the illustrator
 
Review Copyrighted ©2012 Cindy Vallar
 
Return to Top
Pirate Nap
Cover Art: Pirate Nap
Pirate Nap: A Book of Colors
By Danna Smith
Illustrated by Valeria Petrone
Clarion Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-547-57531-5, US $14.99
The pirates on Spyglass Street practice their trade inside and out. They spy. They attack. They feast and dance. Mostly, though, they hunt for treasure. Anything to avoid the dreaded NAP. As they plunder through the house, they discover colors galore in unusual booty found in every nook and cranny. But beware the purple monster from the sea!
 
Although color abounds throughout the pages of this book, the story singles out specific colors on different pages, but not on every one. This is a good story for reading aloud, especially in a group, and young pirates will readily parrot or anticipate as the reader progresses through the story. The illustrations contain a humorous tinge and the eyes of the characters draw you into the story. The pages are simple, rather than busy, and provide young pirates with lots of opportunities to see how these pirates take everyday objects and turn them into pirate fare.
Visit the Author 
 
Review copyrighted © 2011 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top
Pajama Pirates
Cover Art: Pajama Pirates
Pajama Pirates
By Andrew Kramer
Illustrated by Leslie Lammle
Harper, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-125194-8, US $16.99
Clad in pajamas, three little pirates set off on an adventure to search for treasure. Before long, their moonlit path reveals their foe – pirates intent on claiming the treasure map for themselves. More enemies appear, but the pajama pirates devise an ingenious method to escape their clutches. Will they succeed? And if so, do they find their hidden treasure? Or does someone else intrude upon their journey?
 
This whimsical tale is a delight for reading aloud, especially before “lights out.” Both words and pictures cleverly depict a child’s imagination and the adventures it conjures up from simple toys and ideas. The intrusion of adult supervision is subtle and quickly brings to mind all those times we old pirates kept pleading for “just five more minutes” when we were young and daring. The colorful illustrations abound with excitement and danger, and with new things to discover each time you look at them.
Visit Pajama Pirates and watch a video
Visit the illustrator


Review copyrighted © 2010 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top 
The Octonauts & the Great Reef City
Cover Art: The Octonauts & the
                Great Reef City
The Octonauts & the Great Ghost Reef

By Meomi
Immedium, 2009, 978-1-59702-019-0, $15.95

The Octonauts – Captain Barnacles Bear, Peso Penguin, Tweak Bunny, Dr. Shellington, Turnip the Vegimal, Sauci Dog, Kwazii Kitten, and Professor Inkling – can’t wait to arrive at their vacation spot. As their Octopod nears Great Reef City, the intrepid adventurers notice something’s amiss. Instead of a vibrant, colorful coral reef, populated by all types of plants and animals, they see a ghost town. The buildings are abandoned. The only colors are white and gray, and eerie creaks and moans whistle through the silent streets.
 
Then they discover one lone resident, Mr. Slowstache, but this turtle is in the midst of packing up his dilapidated house and moving to a new location. He explains that the more visitors came to stay, the more buildings were erected and the whiter and more brittle things became until everyone moved elsewhere. The Octonauts offer to help Mr. Slowstache find a new home, but he’s a bit particular. The beach where he grew up is too crowded and lacks sufficient shade. There’s no seagrass to eat at the mangroves and the water’s too murky. Kwazii Kitten, the pirate amongst the Octonauts, is a bit perturbed, but Captain Barnacles comes up with a solution. They need to find out why Great Reef City became a ghost town and, if possible, bring it back to life.

This is the mystery the Octonauts must solve in this latest title in this series for young pirates. In doing so, they learn to cooperate and care for one another. Readers also discover how they use technology to solve problems. Although not a pirate book, this is a story about life beneath the sea. The contrast of colorful illustrations with the muted grays, blues, and whites of the ghost town clearly show young pirates the differences between environments we take care of and those we don't. The pages are filled with treasure to discover and strange animals and plants are identified. This is a good book for reading aloud with young pirates, but those slightly older will also enjoy this adventure.
 

Visit The Octonauts
Meet Meomi


Review copyrighted © 2010 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Papa Is a Pirate

Cover Art: Papa Is a Pirate
Papa Is a Pirate
By Katharina Grossmann-Hensel
NorthSouth, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7358-2237-5, US $16.95

Your dad goes to the office everyday to work, right? Just suppose he doesn’t. What if he’s really a pirate?

That’s the premise of this picture book, originally published in Austria as Mein Papa ist Pirat. At first the little boy doesn’t believe his dad, especially when he uses left and right instead of port and starboard. But the more papa reveals, the more persuasive he becomes. Still…what will convince his son he truly is a pirate?

This is a delightful “what if” story to capture a young pirate’s imagination. Treasures abound in the colorful illustrations that imitate not the reality, but what a child imagines. Pirate fathers and their sons, or daughters, will enjoy reading this book together.

Review copyrighted © 2009 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Pirate Treasure Hunt!

Cover Art: Pirate
                Treasure Hunt!
Pirate Treasure Hunt!
By Jan Peck
Illustrated by Adrian Tans
Pelican, 2008, ISBN 978-1-58980-549-1, US $15.95

Captain Dare is in need of pirates to hunt for treasure! Are you game? If so, say, “Aye, aye, Captain” and don’t sound like a lily-livered landlubber when you do. Beware of dangers along the way – a hungry crocodile, a ferocious jaguar, a snake pit, and a threatening buzzard. There be treasure to find, but it be not quite what a young pirate expects.

Thus begins this rousing adventure for young pirates. This picture book isn’t meant to be read alone or in a quiet place. It compels the listener to participate by repeating phrases the reader speaks.

Tans’ colorful and vibrant illustrations bring the story to life. The pirates’ faces display a variety of emotions as they tackle dangerous situations to secure the treasure. Teamwork is essential for such an adventure, which Tans clearly demonstrates.

Visit Jan Peck
Visit Adrian Tans

Review copyrighted © 2009 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

A Year on a Pirate Ship

Cover Art: A Year on a
                Pirate Ship
A Year on a Pirate Ship
By Elizabeth Havercroft
Millbrook Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-58013-547-4, US $22.60

What do pirates do when they’re on their ship? This question is explored within the pages of this book. From the loading of the ship to attacking prey to weathering a storm at sea, readers will learn what occupies the pirates through words and pictures. The colorful illustrations not only show what pirates do, but also allow young sea rouges to participate in the tale. Each double-page spread has oodles of objects to dazzle the eye and to hide in plain view a variety of treasures for readers to find.

A Year on a Pirate Ship is a great way for young pirates to practice vital skills like counting and locating. They can see inside a ship to discover what goes on belowdeck. An exciting adventure that delights and entertains.

Review copyrighted © 2009 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate

Cover Art: The
                Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate
The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate
By Carrie Muller and Jacqueline Hallsey
Illustrated by Eric Orchard
Nimbus Publishing, 2008, ISBN 978-1-55109-655-1, US $10.95 / CAN $10.95

Picture the ricketiest ship you can imagine, then zero in on the crow’s nest and you’ll discover the worst smelling, most horrible pirate you can imagine. Luckily, his parrot can’t smell, otherwise he’d have no friends at all! Polly advises that such a terrible, horrible, smelly pirate must have a secret treasure, so off they sail to find some. That’s when they spy a mermaid perched on a rock and reading a book. Offended by his odor, she insists that he stand downwind of her. Only then will she tell him a riddle. If he can answer correctly, she’ll show him where to find hidden treasure. But is it the booty he seeks?

This delightful tale comes alive with the vibrant and captivating details of the artist’s illustrations. The words are easy to comprehend, and there are plenty of opportunities for young pirates to join in as the story is read aloud. When Mom or Dad is tired of reading, the children can recite what happens just from the colorful drawings that accompany the text. A superb voyage set in Canada’s Halifax Harbor that is certain to bring a smile to young and old alike.


Review copyrighted © 2008 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

My Pop-Pop is a Pirate


My Pop-Pop is a Pirate
By Pat Croce
Illustrated by Julia Woolf
Running Press Kids, 2008, ISBN 978-0-7624-2871-7
US $15.95 / CAN $17.00 / £9.99

Show-and-Tell Day is big at young Paz’s school, but on this day there’s a special theme – families. When it’s her turn, Paz talks about her pop-pop, who doesn’t have an ordinary job. He’s a Pirate! Of course, the teacher scoffs at such a tale and the children laugh, but Paz persists. The teacher promises they will have a serious talk about Paz’s behavior after their field trip. But on the way to the aquarium, there are surprises in store.

Made of sturdy pressed boards, this is an interactive story that is sure to please young children. They’ll readily identify with the happenings at school, and the artwork is simple yet full of interesting details and eye-catching colors. There are flaps to lift and a very special surprise as you turn the last page. My Pop-Pop is a Pirate is a book youngsters will treasure and enjoy for a long time.


Review copyrighted © 2008 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Puzzle Pirates

Cover Art: Puzzle Pirates
Puzzle Pirates
By Susannah Leigh
Illustrated by Brenda Haw
EDC Publishing, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7945-1359-7, US $6.99

Joe attends pirate school, but his report card shows he needs more practice before he can earn his cutlass. His uncle, Buccaneer Bill, has just the solution. He’s found a treasure map and with Joe’s help, they can find the treasure and Joe can prove how much of a pirate he really is! It won’t be as easy as it sounds, though. Joe must first find his uncle’s ship, the Salty Seal, and then decide how best to come aboard. Then there’s the voyage itself with rocky reefs and other pirates intent on taking the treasure for themselves. Finally Deadly Isle, where the treasure resides, didn’t get that name for nothing! Only with your help can Joe and Buccaneer Bill succeed in this adventure.

This puzzle book will satisfy any young puzzler. It includes items to spot, mazes to navigate, ladders to climb, pirates to identify, maps to navigate, clues to defeat the pirate skeletons, and ropes to negotiate. The pages are filled with fun and games that will occupy young pirate apprentices when the ship is becalmed.


Book Review Copyright ©2007 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Pirate Fun

Cover Art: Pirate Fun
Pirate Fun
By Emma Less
Illustrated by Steve Harpster
Sterling Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-1-4027-3804-3, US $5.95 / CAN $7.95

Pirate apprentices of three years and older who like to scribble will find this a delightful treasure. The pages are of pressed board and have sections that are blank. Readers use the six crayons that come with the book to color in the missing parts: the pirates’ ship, their clothes, the treasure, and the captain’s hideaway. At the very end of the book is a maze the pirate captain must navigate to reach the buried treasure. The wipe-off pages allow readers to explore the world of pirates over and over again.


Book Review Copyright ©2007 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

That’s Not My Pirate

Cover Art: That's Not My
                Pirate
That’s Not My Pirate
By Fiona Watt
Illustrated by Rachel Wells
EDC Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7945-1702-1, US $7.99

Written for babies and toddlers, this board book combines simple tactile concepts of rough, soft, silky, bumpy, glittery, and fluffy with basic elements of piracy, such as bandanas, hats, spyglasses, boats, eyepatches, cutlasses, and hooks. The touchy-feely sensations and simple, repetitive language guides the young reader to explore and repeat the words aloud. The colorful drawings invite them to look for the not-so-obvious treasures incorporated into the drawings. Great for reading aloud together to find out which is “my pirate.”


Book Review Copyright ©2007 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

On a Pirate Ship

Cover Art: On a Pirate Ship
On a Pirate Ship
By Sarah Courtauld
Illustrated by Benji Davies
EDC Publishing, June 2007, ISBN 978-0-7945-1702-1, US $9.99

What’s it like to sail on a pirate ship? Here’s your chance to find out! Set sail with the captain and his crew, but watch out for stormy seas. Keep a watchful eye for a treasure ship to plunder. Beware! Danger lurks – a pirate hunter is on your trail.

Aimed at young children just learning to read, this book introduces them to life at sea as a pirate. The large, colorful illustrations compliment the simple text. Danger is hinted at, but never overt. There are opportunities for readers to shout out warnings and “Aargh!” A great way to get a young pirate-in-training’s feet wet before launching into more adventurous tales.


Book Review Copyright ©2007 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Pirate Jigsaw Book

Cover Art: Pirate Jigsaw Book
Pirate Jigsaw Book
By Struan Reid
Illustrated by Peter Allen
EDC Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7945-1432-4, US $14.99

A pirate’s world is filled with both adventure and mundane tasks. Through the use of puzzles, search-and-find games, and colorful pictures, young readers learn about the life of a pirate. You begin your exploration with seeing how pirates lived on their ships. From there you experience the capture of a prize, marooning captives, hiding your treasure, spending your booty in a pirate town, and standing trial for piracy.

The left side of each two-page spread contains a jigsaw puzzle in a frame. The pieces come out easily and then readers reassemble the puzzle inside the frame. Underneath is a picture of the puzzle so that assemblers have a visual guide to reconstruct the ship, the island, the town, or the court room. The right page includes a brief paragraph about what the puzzle shows and the items readers must find in the puzzle.

Written for pirates-in-training who are older than 36 months, this book is constructed from pressed cardboard, so the puzzle pieces are sturdy and fit inside the book’s pages. Sometimes a puzzle piece is shaped to match something in a pirate’s life, such as a ship’s wheel, a parrot, or a cutlass, and all pieces are big enough for little hands to hold. The Pirate Jigsaw Book is a fun and educational way to learn about pirates. The illustrations are crammed with all sorts of little details that will keep young pirates searching for hidden treasure. It provides a well-rounded view of sea rogues without glamorizing them, but the cartoonish illustrations are entertaining.

Note: This book was originally published in the UK by Usborne Books.


Book Review Copyright ©2007 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Pirate Bob

Cover Art: Pirate Bob by
                Kathryn Lasky and illustrated by David Clark
Pirate Bob
by Kathryn Lasky
Illustrated by David Clark
Charlesbridge, 2006, ISBN 978-1-57091-595-6, US $15.95 / CAN $23.95

Beneath a rogue’s moon lies the Blackbird. Aboard this ship, Pirate Bob waits. His nose itches, a sure sign that gold is near. He, like his friend Yellow Jack (so named because of his pale lemon hue), loves treasure. When the lookout spies Concordia, the captain orders sails loosened and guns primed. Boarding the ship and gaining the gold are minor problems for Bob. What will he to do with his share of the gold? How can he trust the other pirates, including Yellow Jack, who crave the money as much as he does?

This story combines hopes and fears with dreams and friendships. As readers follow Bob’s adventures, they are introduced to the key concepts of piracy, from stealing treasure and chasing prey to boarding a ship and divvying the loot. The dangerous life a pirate leads is subtly woven into the tale. The colorful renderings of the action will ensnare readers much as pirates bait a trap. The facial expressions of the characters bring them to life. Pirate Bob is a great story for reading aloud or for keeping the treasure all to oneself.

Meet Kathryn Lasky


Book Review Copyright © 2006 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Backbeard and the Birthday Suit

Cover Art: Backbeard and the
                Birthday Suit
Backbeard and the Birthday Suit
by Matt McElligott
Walker and Company, 2006, ISBN 0-8027-8065-2, US $16.95

Artwork from
                  Backbeard and the Birthday SuitImagine someone hairier and meaner than Blackbeard, a nasty pirate indeed. To make him even scarier, think of the stench of a garbage can. Who do you have? Backbeard! The hairiest pirate who ever lived!

Backbeard is captain of a motley crew aboard the Five O’Clock Shadow, where they celebrate in grand pirate fashion Backbeard’s birthday. After the party, though, Polly (Backbeard’s parrot) quits, and gazing in the mirror, Backbeard realizes he’s a mess.  So into town he strolls to Edwin’s Fine Fashions. The clerk doesn’t have any pirate clothes, but he improvises and comes up with an unbelievable new birthday suit for the captain. Upon his return to his ship, though, the crew fails to recognize him. Not only must Backbeard regain control of his ship and men, he also has to convince them he’s still the most-feared pirate sailing the five seas (two have yet to be discovered).

The tale itself is reminiscent of The Emperor’s New Clothes, but with pirates as characters and actually clothing everyone can see, even if they might need shades to do so. Backbeard’s crew has appropriate names for pirates: Sweaty McGhee, Mad Garlic Jack, Scarlet Doubloon. The pirate slang is present as well: hornswoggle, walk the plank, shiver me timbers, and more. In this tale, a rough tough pirate meets his softer side, which results in humorous situations. What makes this book shine are the colorful illustrations. Each one captures the reader’s eyes and compels you to explore the illustration in greater depth, looking for the nuances that are oftentimes missed with just a glance. This is a great book for reading aloud, and the pictures allow the children to tell the story even if they can’t read the words. From the front cover to the back cover, there are treasures to delight the eye.

Artwork from Backbeard and
                the Birthday Suit 

Visit Matt McElligott
Learn More About Backbeard
(Making the Book, Pirate Radio, Projects and Lesson Plans)


Book Review Copyright © 2006 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Shiver Me Letters

Cover Art: Shiver Me
                Letters
Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate A B C
by June Sobel
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Harcourt, 2006, ISBN 0-15-216732-3, US $16.00

This pirate captain and his animal crew are in desperate need of letters to make them tough!  So far they only possess “R” (think AARRRGH).  It’s just not enough. So off they sail to lands near and far snaring the needed letters until they get to “Z”, which gives them a bit of trouble.

Shiver Me Letters is great fun for reading aloud with young children just learning their alphabet. What makes this a special treasure is that it’s a pirate tale rather than just the usual A-B-C book. The text provides ample opportunity for reader participation, and little pirates will have fun seeking the letters along with the pirates since the artist incorporated them into his eye-captivating and colorful drawings. One or two of the letters require a keen eye to locate (not blatantly obviously to the casual seeker). The words are all associated with pirates and the sea, although “landlubber” will be foreign to most children. This is a perfect way to teach the alphabet while introducing your children to your secret passion – to be a pirate! It’s also a wonderful way for children and parents to spend quality time together.

Cover Art: Inside Spread
                of Shiver Me Letters

Meet June Sobel


Book Review Copyright © 2006 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Pirate Pup

Cover Art: Pirate Pup
by Caroline Stutson
Illustrations by Robert Rayevsky
Chronicle Books, 2005, ISBN 0-8118-4239-8 US $15.95

Captain Pup and his crew of pirates set sail aboard their ship, Rover. The voyage is a fair one – no bad weather, no cats – and they soon arrive on the shores where they’ve buried their treasure. On the return trip, however, not far from Barbados, their fortune takes a turn for the worse when the pirate-hunting cats attack. Who will be victorious in this sea battle? What happens to the pirates’ coveted treasure?

Geared toward young pirates, who haven’t learned to read or are just beginning to discover that magical world, this rhyming tale will engage them with repetitive phrases that allow them to participate in the voyage. A special treat for readers comes when the content of the treasure chest is unveiled.  Pirate Pup is ideal for reading aloud. The true treasure of this tale, however, is the artwork that accompanies the narrative. Robert Rayevsky masterfully depicts pirate life down to minute details, such as the face of playing cards or the illustration of a peg-leg pirate in one sea rover’s book. No matter how many times a child looks at the illustrations, he/she will discover something new. Although colorful, the pencil and watercolor pictures on coffee-stained paper have a subdued quality to them, which allows them to entertain without arousing children’s energy to inappropriate levels.

View an Inside Spread of Pirate Pup


Book Review Copyright © 2006 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

Cover Art: Captain Flinn and
                the Pirate Dinosaurs
by Giles Andreae
Illustrated by Russell Ayto
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2005, ISBN 1-4169-0713-0, $15.95

Flinn loves dinosaurs.  One day at school while drawing a picture of one, he runs out of markers. Miss Pie, his teacher, sends him to the closet to get what he needs. Instead of finding markers, he discovers a pirate captain whose ship has been stolen by pirates! Flinn volunteers to help Captain Stubble recover the Acorn, as do three of Flinn’s friends, who also love adventure. Just then, the back of the closet opens to reveal a battered old pirate ship waiting for them. Eventually, they catch up to the Acorn, but when Flinn peers through his telescope, he discovers the pirates aren’t your run-of-the-mill kind. No! They are pirate dinosaurs, and Tyrannosaurus Rex is their captain.

Dinosaurs are a favorite of young children, so I thought Flinn would be their captain. Instead, they are the villains in this story, as real pirates are. The story provides children with opportunities to participate in the telling, and the illustrations allow youngsters to tell the story themselves once they know what happens. This is a fanciful tale, one daydreamers will readily enjoy.


Book Review Copyright © 2005 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Pirate Girl

Cover Art: Pirate Girl
by Cornelia Funke
Illustrated by Kerstin Meyer
Scholastic, 2005, ISBN 0-439-71672-1 US $15.95 / CAN $21.99

Molly sets sail for her grandmother’s house. She’s not bothering anyone, just minding her own business. Captain Firebeard and the pirates of the Horrible Haddock don’t care. They rob and plunder all ships regardless of size and passengers. This time, though, they’ve taken on more than they can handle, for Molly may be small, but she’s feisty! She refuses to identify her parents and where they live. Instead, she shuts her mouth and does all the chores the pirates demand of her, all the while knowing that sooner or later, the pirates will rue the day they captured her.

This picture book is a delightful introduction to piracy for young children. There is no violence, but the pirates still come across as mean and nasty. What makes this particular book a rarity is that it is a story for girls! Not only is Molly one clever girl, but so is her rescuer, and never a more imposing woman has anyone met. An undercurrent of humor laces the story and illustrations, and children will cheer when “P…P…P…Pirates” attack the pirates!


Book Review Copyright © 2005 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

A Pirate’s Life for Me!

Cover Art: A Pirate's Life for
              Me
By Julie Thompson & Brownie Macintosh
Illustrated by Patrick O’Brien
Charlesbridge, 1996, ISBN 0-88106-931-0, $6.95 US, $10.95 CAN
Book with cassette, ISBN 0-88106-835-7, $13.95 US

What do pirates do during the day? What do they wear or eat? What dangers do they face? How do they navigate their ship or capture another? How do they entertain themselves? Reminiscent of the series A Day in the Life of, this picture book answers these questions that young children often ask. When the story ends, the reader finds four short biographies about famous pirates: Mary Read and Anne Bonney, Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and Black Bart. Two well-known fictional pirates, Captain Hook and Long John Silver, are also profiled.

For the most part, this is a historically accurate portrayal of pirates without the violence. Two exceptions are walking the plank and burying treasure, but these are myths often associated with pirates. The glossary provides easy-to-understand definitions for words young readers may not know. The colorful artwork compliments the story, and the faces of the pirates portray a wealth of emotions that enhance the reader’s experience. Those who look close will even find the authors in at least one picture.

Sample page from book

A further treat is the cassette, which can be purchased with the book. On side one the authors narrate the book—a great way for children to follow along when no one’s available to read with them. The second side is a collection of eleven traditional and original maritime songs.  Some tunes are lively, while the repetition of words in others is perfect for singing along.

A Pirate’s Life for Me! is a great introduction to piracy that children and parents will enjoy reading aloud together.


Book Review Copyright ©2005 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Jean Laffite and the Big Ol' Whale

Cover Art: Jean Laffite and
                the Big Ol' Whale
By Frank G. Fox
Pictures by Scott Cook
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003, ISBN 0-374-33669-5, $16.00

The baby comes from up river, but the people of New Orleans know nothing else about him. Thinking him an ordinary infant, the rivermen name him Jean Laffite. Within a short time, though, he proves them wrong. He favors chicory-flavored coffee to goat's milk. He learns to walk three days after his arrival, but prefers swimming. At the age of seven he swims up the Mississippi River, then floats back down to New Orleans, counting all the trees lining the riverbanks along the way. He soon acquires more knowledge about the Mighty Mississippi than anyone else, so when the river suddenly dries up, everyone seeks out Jean Laffite. He must discover the reason for the water's disappearance and devise a solution to the problem.

Jean Laffite and the Big Ol' Whale is an original tall tale based on a real person, who became a legend just as Davy Crockett did. Although he lived almost two centuries ago, we still have trouble discerning fact from fiction where he's concerned. Laffite was a master of deception through misinformation. Fox's character comes up with an ingenious solution to the problem of the whale. The author includes tidbits of truth through this whopper of a tale, reminiscent of the classics like Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill. At the very end of the book, Fox includes a brief explanation about the real Laffite.

The color paintings that depict the story have an abstract quality to them that complement the tallness of the tale. Viewers will want to lean in close to see if they missed any minute details.

This story of Jean Laffite, the gentleman pirate who became a hero of New Orleans during the War of 1812, has no pirates, ghosts, or buried treasure in it. Instead, it's a subtle story of friendship and helping others in need. Any collection that includes tall tales will want to add this one.


Book Review Copyright ©2003 Cindy Vallar

Return to Top

Home
Pirate Articles
Pirate Links
Book Reviews
Thistles & Pirates

Contact Me
Click on the Cannon to Contact Me