Blackbeard The Pirate King
Author: J. Patrick Lewis
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: National Geographic/2006
ISBN: 0792255860
Age Levels: 5 and up

Book Review

Dear Reader,

Some tales at once excite you,
Some tales told twice are true.
Come with me. I invite you
Along for the derring-do—
To a tale as keen as a cutlass
That no man dares impeach.
A tale to billow a pirate’s sail
Is the tale of Captain Teach.
And what a tale it is! Poet J. Patrick Lewis turns his considerable talent to Blackbeard (Edward Teach), the swashbuckling, pistol-wielding buccaneer who made his piratical living on the high seas.

Written in chronological fashion, the book begins with the poem, "Golden Age of Piracy: 1689-1730," setting the stage for the reader. Lewis then details Blackbeard’s youth. Born around 1680, he became obsessed with the sea as he matured. Interestingly, he did not start out to be a pirate according to legend. In his early 20s, he became a Jamaican privateer who sailed for the Queen:
And did Teach prove his valor
And his boldness to the cause
Of Queen Anne’s War before he set
About to breaking laws?
After that, Blackbeard became apprenticed to Benjamin Hornigold, a famous pirate, and "the future was foretold."

In the poem, "Edward Teach as Blackbeard," Lewis sums up in one stanza Blackbeard as both man and myth:
Now Teach was as tall as a waterfall
And strong as a rum-soaked cask.
The sea would quake in the sloop’s wide wake
When he took a man to task,
For what men feared was the coal-black beard
Some said was the devil’s mask.
Blackbeard would not see his fortieth birthday. In "The Battle of Ocracoke Inlet," Lewis describes "a fateful rendezvous" between Blackbeard’s ship and a 35-man sloop named Jane. After a brief battle, Blackbeard was shot and stabbed to death.

The book includes a fascinating author’s note accompanied by two maps. A detailed timeline is appended.

Lewis’s poems are accompanied by a variety of mixed-media illustrations which date from the 1700s to the present. "The Brethren of the Coast," for example, sits next to the painting "Duel on the Beach" by N.C. Wyeth, done in 1926.

Typical of National Geographic, the book is stunning in its design—from its gorgeous cover art to the historical, 18th century font.

The book would work well in elementary, middle, and even high school classrooms.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2007 Education Oasis

About the Author

J. Patrick Lewis is a prolific author of picture books for children. He has three grown children and three grandchildren. He lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where he dreams about high sea adventures in rhyming couplets.


You may read a National Geographic article about Teach.