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August Books: Pirates Ahoy!

By on July 27, 2016

BOOKS_piratesBefore school begins, swap out your last few days of vacation for time in your imagination. These pirate tales can take you along on adventures, and make you laugh or think. Whether it’s a day at the beach or on board, there’s still time for summertime magic. If your fantasy is to sail into the sunset, feast your fancy on these books of wonder.

By Meribeth C. Shank

Captain Jack and the Pirates

by Peter Bently, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

BOOKScaptainjackRollicking rhythm and rhyme attracts listeners’ interest. The “brave mariners three” use their imaginations to build a pirate ship from sand at the beach. Buckets for cannons, shirts for the mainsails, an inflatable ring and they are off “through oceans unknown!”

An enemy pirate ship is up ahead, but a storm on the sea brings down the sail, collapses the ship and sends a “man overboard!” They explore the “island” where the “enemy pirates” are shipwrecked too. The “treasure” they discover is a bountiful table of “booty.” Sandwiches, cupcakes and soda pop draw them to the heavily laden table.

A beguiling mix of watercolor paintings is intermingled with smaller pencil drawings. Much beloved illustrator Oxenbury uses her award-winning talents to show the sunlit day changing to a “tropical gale.” And the contrast between the huge pirate ship with its eye patch pirates and the small sand boat with its tiny buccaneers could not be more imposing.

When a voice says, “Caught you!” The “buccaneers” give in without a struggle, getting dried off by caring parents with clean clothes. The final double page spread is a view of three happy boys/pirates companionably licking ice cream cones.

Dial, $17.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten (This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Maggie and the Pirate

by Ezra Jack Keats

BOOKSmaggieIn this haunting story, Maggie lives with her parents “in an old bus they made into a home.” They use boats or rafts to get to “town,” an unusual collection of buildings on stilts. A boy stranger, who calls himself a pirate and has built an odd tree house in the swamp, steals Maggie’s beloved cricket in his cage. She and her friends go on a hunt to find Nikki. Sadly, during the struggle to retrieve him, the cricket drowns.

Award winner Keats is famous for developing a lovely illustration style that mixes collage, silhouette and watercolor. In addition to the beautiful paintings, the simple text and the language of loss and reconciliation enhance the depth of this book. The concluding friendships formed from this profound tale of loss leave a lingering effect of sweetness without overpowering readers or listeners.

Scholastic, Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Culmer Overtown, North Dade Regional, South Dade Regional)

Roger the Jolly Pirate

by Brett Helquist

BOOKS-rogerRoger is a lousy pirate. The other buccaneers on his ship give him the unkind nickname of Jolly Roger. “When there is serious pirating” to do, they send him below deck.

This happens again when their only notable opponent, the “Admiral” with his band, attacks. Roger, who wants to win his shipmates approval, decides to bake a cake in a cannon he thinks is a pot. The resulting explosion blows Roger on deck in a cloud of flour, smoke, and gunpowder soot, shrieking like a banshee. The Admiral’s crew doesn’t stay long enough to realize he’s neither skeleton nor ghost.

This is a wacky story with double-page spreads of wild and crazy battle scenes, and contrasting close-up views of faces and ships on the high seas. Author/illustrator Helquist grabs attention with his ability to craft high-motion images. A chicken companion and his grin with a gap distinguish Roger from the scowls of the other pirates.

In appreciation, Roger’s shipmates make a flag in his honor, now known as the “Jolly Roger.” Music and words for “The Ballad of the Jolly Roger” are included at the end.

HarperCollins, $6.99 (paperback) Interest Level: Grades 1-3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Main Branch, Culmer Overtown, West Dade Regional, West End Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

More Pirate Tales:

 

The Pirate Queen by Emily Arnold McCully. Putnam, Interest Level: Grade 2-3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Main Branch, West Dade Regional, West End Regional)

Lilly and the Pirates by Phyllis Root, illustrations by Rob Shepperson. Boyds Mills Press, $8.95 (paperback) $16.95 (hardcover) Interest Level: Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: California Club, Northeast, South Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon. Harcourt, $16.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Main Branch, Culmer Overtown, Miami Springs, Northeast, South Dade Regional West Dade Regional, West End 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, has taught 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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