There’s nothing like a riotous pirate adventure to spice things up! Today’s stories are full of fun, not fright, so go ahead and read ’em at bedtime.
Ned the Knitting Pirate, written by Diana Murray, illustrated by Leslie Lammie published in 2016 by Roaring Brook Press
The crew aboard the Rusty Heap are a swaggering, rugged lot, “tougher than gristle and barnacle grit,” according to their very own sea chanty.
Ned, however, doesn’t exaaactly fit the prototype. He likes to knit. This does not go over well with ye olde captain. “A scurvy pirate doesn’t knit!” he proclaims. But…Ned keeps clicketing away.
Good thing, too. Just wait’ll you see how Ned’s knitting saves the grubby lot of ’em! Jaunty, humorous rhythms in this delightful text are paired with merrily energetic illustrations. On that note, Betsy Bird of School Library Journal wrote a hilarious post recently about Erroneously-Held Knitting Needles in Children’s Book Illustrations which you can read here. Thank goodness Leslie Lammie gets it right! Ages 3 and up.
Rufus Goes to Sea, written by Kim T. Griswell, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev published in 2015 by Sterling Children’s Books
“My name is Rufus Leroy Williams III and I want to be a pirate!”
Rufus — a darling bibliophile of a pig — has decided to become a pirate over summer vacation. He hails Captain Willyshins of the Scurvy Dog, requesting permission to come aboard but — oh dear — that captain blasts off a whole litany of reasons why a pig need not apply.
Rufus is one persistent pig, however, who manages to maneuver around objections, squibble over the railing, and worm his way right into the captain’s heart. How does he do it?
It’s a book-lover’s dream come true. Gorbachev saturates the pages in Caribbean color. His illustrations brim with warmth, whiskers, and that winning Pig, Rufus! Ages 3 and up.
The Pirates Next Door, written and illustrated by Jonny Duddle first U.S. edition 2012 by Templar Books, Candlewick Press
Dull-on-Sea is a coastal town with tidy bungalows, neatly-trimmed hedges, flaming maple trees, and charming school rooms. So, you would think it was a happy place, right?
Wrong. Hint: Note the name of the town.
So when Matilda sees the house next door has been sold, she gets her hopes up that someone exciting will move in. Maybe a girl just her age.
Turns out, it’s a whole family of pirates! The Jolley Rogers! With a mom looking a bit like a tamed down Bellatrix Lestrange, goggle-eyed Grandpa, little sister Nugget with mischief in her eyes, Dad shouting Arrh! and a boy just her age — Tilda is overjoyed! No more boring days!
Howeversome. Tilda’s parents and the rest of this conventional community are not happy. These new folks just don’t fit in! Their clothes! Their front lawn! Why, it’s a disgrace! Soon a bevy of nasty rumors and Get-Out-Of-Town petitions are circulating wildly.
Sadly, the Jolley Rogers acquiesce to the inhospitable neighbors and steal out of town by night. But not before they leave these folks a most unexpected surprise.
A remarkable look at welcoming the stranger, cloaked in galleons, cannon balls and treasure chests. It’s a great read for ages 5 and up. Jonny Duddle has written several early chapter books, the first two out this year, about these same Jolley Rogers if you’ld like to keep following them in their adventures!
Archie and the Pirates, written and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal published in 2009; a Joanna Cotler Book from HarperCollins
A hearty Swiss Family Robinson vibe swings through this story about a monkey named Archie who washes up on a deserted island.
Archie constructs every child’s dream-of-a-tree-top abode and befriends a host of tropical island creatures. They’ve got quite a lovely jungle society going when Har! and Aargh! some Nasty Pirates show up! Not to worry. The cleverness of Archie and Co. fending those guys off is a joy to behold!
Rosenthal’s jolly colors, present-tense narration, and page layouts remind me a bit of the Babar stories. Such great fun for ages 3 and up!
How I Became a Pirate, written by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon published in 2003 by Harcourt, Inc.
Young Jeremy Jacob is minding his own business, building a sand castle on the shore one summer’s day when — blimey! — a pirate ship sails in.
Although he tries to alert his family, everyone’s too busy to notice a mere tall-masted ship with a skull-and-crossbones flapping in the breeze and its enormous, crimson-coated, peg-legged captain towering over Jeremy and declaring that they’re in need of his digging services.
Off goes Jeremy, with a grand smile on his face, ready to join the dimwitted crew as they search for just the right spot to bury their secret treasure.
Jeremy gets quite a precipitous lesson in Pirate Manners or the lack thereof. It’s a pretty freewheeling life. That’s all very well when the sun is a-shining, but at night? When it’s time for bed? Or in the midst of a lashing storm?
Leave it to Jeremy to solve his own problems and find a spot for the treasure, all in one swoop. David Shannon’s electric, bombastic illustrations make this one blast off the pages. Ages 4 and up.