July Books: Lookout Pirates!

By on June 30, 2015

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Summer is for dreaming. Try out these books for firing up summertime imaginations. Watch out! You may find some treasure; new friends and new discoveries await you. Have fun!!

How I Became a Pirate

how-i-becamepirateby Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon

Jeremy Jacob is building a sand castle, when a pirate ship arrives on the beach. He goes with them because they need a digger – they have “a chest of treasure to bury.” It will be ok, he thinks, as long as he’s back “in time for soccer practice the next day.” From Braid Beard and his crew, Jeremy learns pirate manners and to speak pirate. He even tries to teach them to play soccer. He wants to be a pirate forever. Until — he discovers what pirates DON’T do. Caldecott award winning illustrator Shannon uses bright acrylics in his large hilarious paintings. Pirates with green teeth are featured, also an orange-beaked parrot, who is active on nearly every page with the pirates. The obligatory eye patches, headscarves, hats, treasure maps, and even the pirate flag are highlighted. Along with a peg leg pirate and another with a hook. Especially important is the enormous treasure chest, filled with crowns, jewels, gold bars, and coins. Even before the storm breaks, readers learn with Jeremy: pirates don’t tuck in bed, read stories or give bedtime kisses. And when lightening splits the mast, no one even notices him. But Jeremy takes charge, with a solution for where to bury the treasure . . . And the final page double page spread shows him at soccer practice, still wearing the pirate scarf. And the team name printed on his shirt? PIRATES, of course!

Harcourt, $16.99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main Branch, Culmer Overtown, North Central, North Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Tough Boris

ToughBorisby Mem Fox, illustrated by Kathryn Brown

Using an economy of words, celebrated author Fox, once more engages her readers in a tale filled with surprises. Greedy, fearless and tough, Boris von der Borch also has tender feelings. Readers learn about this later, as the story progresses in a list-like repeating poetic style. Colorful watercolors show Boris and his crew digging up treasure, which they split and bicker over. Along with a violin they discover. A stowaway boy steals back his own violin. Then, he must play it in a command performance for the assembled pirates. Brief, irresistible text outlines Boris’ characteristics, and compares him with other pirates. When Boris’s parrot dies, the boy offers his violin case as a coffin, and plays for the funeral. Not only does Boris cry when his parrot dies, but “All pirates cry.” When the boy is taken ashore at the end – with his beloved violin — his is the last word, “And so do I.” This title is wonderful for a variety of ages. Simple, short text appeals to the youngest of listeners. Accompanying pictures illuminate a secondary storyline. The parallel stories create an opportunity for readers, both young and older, to consider what might be under the surface, even for pirates.

Harcourt, $16 (hardcover) $7 (paperback) Interest Level: Pre Kindergarten – Grade 2  (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main Branch, Edison, North Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Edward and the Pirates

edwardby David McPhail

This sequel to award-winning author McPhail’s Santa’s Book of Names, is also about Edward. Now that he can, Edward reads everything! As he’s reading, sometimes his imagination makes him feel like what he reads is real. It’s like he becomes part of the story, helping out Admiral Peary, Robin Hood and Joan of Arc. McPhail’s artistry shows both in his writing and in the accompanying illustrations. His choices of acrylics in darker colors lend themselves well to the shadows and lamp lit scenes his imagination produces. When Edward discovers an old dust-covered book, Lost Pirate Treasure, he reads until closing time at the library. Later that night he falls asleep, reading in bed — pirates wake him, asking for the library book. They think it will tell where their treasure is buried. Edward refuses because it’s a library book and he’s responsible. They promise to share the treasure and threaten to make Edward walk the plank. Fortunately, Edward’s parents come to his (dream) rescue as Joan of Arc and Robin Hood. When everything is finally sorted out, Edward shows the pirates the book. But they admit, “We can’t read.” Ultimately, Edward reads the book to the pirates, who cluster around his bed. As the parents leave they admonish, “don’t stay up too late,” and “close the window when you leave.” In this perfect book about the power of imagination, is buried, like treasure, a tribute to the joy of reading.

Little, Brown and Company $17 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten -Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main Branch, Culmer Overtown, Little River, Miami Lakes, North Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

More Pirate Books:

Dirty Joe the Pirate: A True Story

by Bill Harley, illustrated by Jack E. Davis
HarperCollins, $17.99 Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main Branch, Culmer Overtown, Little River, North Central, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Victricia Malicia

by Carrie Clickard, illustrated by Mark Meyers
Flashlight Press, $16.95 Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2 (This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Captain Beastlie’s Pirate Party

by Lucy Coats, illustrated by Chris Mould
Candlewick Press, $15.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Allapattah, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web: http://meribeths.blogspot.com

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