How I Became a Pirate
Author: Melinda Long; Illustrator David Shannon
Pages: 44
Publisher/Date: Harcourt/2003
ISBN: 0152018484
Age Levels: 3-8 and up

Book Review

You'll never again read another pirate book without comparing it to this treasure of a tale—it's that good.

There's Jeremy Jacob, sitting on the beach building sand castles, minding his own business, when what should appear but a pirate ship! When the captain, Braid Beard, sees what a fine digger Jeremy is, he convinces him to join his crew. "We've been needin' a digger like yourself," says Beard, "We've a chest of treasure to bury."

And so Jeremy is off. He quickly picks up piratical ways. Soon he is seen swaggering around the poop deck, singing sea chanteys (loudly), and slinging pirate lingo here and there ("landlubber," "scurvy dog") along with his food.

Ah yes, the life of a pirate. Nobody telling you when to go to bed, when to take a bath, or even brush your teeth! What could be more perfect?

But avast! Jeremy soon discovers there are some downsides to pirate-hood. Pirates are not very good soccer players. And when night falls and Jeremy asks Braid Beard to tuck him in and read him a story, Beard bellows, "Tuck you in?. . . Pirates don't tuck." (They also don't read—'ceptin' treasure maps of course.)

Suddenly a storm whips up. After lightning hits the ship's mast and breaks it in two, the plans for burying the treasure are sunk. Jeremy, quick-thinking pirate that he is, knows the perfect digging spot.

And so the story ends as the pirates row back to shore and bury the treasure in a most safe place—Jeremy Jacob's backyard.

The story is wonderfully wacky and full of good humor. Shannon's bright, acrylic illustrations are truly inspired. (Think Vermeer gone crazy.) Each double-page spread if filled to overflowing with action and vitality. The characters' piratical expressions are laugh-out-loud funny.

A must-have for your classroom. Children's books don't get much better than this.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis.
©2003 Education Oasis®

About the Author

Melinda Long is a teacher and the author of several picture books. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit her website.

About the Illustrator

David Shannon is the illustrator of many successful pirate books. His numerous awards include a Caldecott Honor for No, David! He lives in Burbank, California. Read more about David Shannon's books.


Nancy Keane: Booktalks Quick and Simple. Grades: K-3.