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06 Feb, Monday
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Montreal Families

A treasure trove of pirate books

Children are endlessly fascinated by pirates. These swash-buckling characters sail to exotic lands and hunt for buried treasure — just the sort of adventures that appeal to kids who sometimes feel their curious spirits are being quashed by rules and regulations. Pirates are often portrayed as people who refuse to compromise to the adult world. They pursue their whims, live day-by-day and continue to see the world as their playground. What could be more comforting to a child who is facing growing up than knowing that being an adult doesn’t always mean throwing all the fun away into the sea? So if your children long to set sail on a pirate ship, here are some books that will start them on their journey.

Pirate PearlPirate Pearl (Scholastic, $6.99)
by Phoebe Gilman, ages 3 to 6

Who says a girl can’t be a pirate? In this playful picture book, Canadian author Phoebe Gilman has a group of rough and tumble pirates confront their most frightening adversary yet: a baby girl. The pirates find Pearl floating in her cradle on the sea after a ship sinks. The pirates want her to walk the plank until they realize she can’t even crawl, much less walk. They decide to keep her onboard until she can make it down the plank, but are soon won over by Pearl’s feisty spirit. As Pearl grows, she embraces the pirate lifestyle with gusto, participating in all kinds of high-seas adventures. Gilman’s feminist twist on the normally male-dominated history of pirates makes for a delightful read for both girls and boys.

How I Became a PirateHow I Became a Pirate (Harcourt Books, $17.95)
by Melinda Long, ages 4 to 7

What actually happens when a child joins a pirate ship? In this book, author Melissa Long treats readers to the hilarious story of 5-year-old Jeremy who gets kidnapped by a group of pirates. Initially, he loves the no-vegetable rule, the late-night brawling and the celebration of sloppiness but he soon realizes that being a pirate is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Especially when you try to play soccer on deck and a shark eats the ball. Fortunately, the pirates aren’t as fierce and fearsome as they look and Jeremy is allowed to return to the calmer waters of his home turf. Illustrated by David Shannon, the pirates are a perfect mix of burly ruggedness and cheerful jolliness, and the book is written with the exact tone that a little 5-year-old storyteller would use.

Pirates Most WantedPirates Most Wanted (Atheneum, $19.99)
by John Matthews, ages 6 to 10

Reading this book is like opening an old and tattered scrapbook filled with the long-lost secrets of pirates from near and far. Children are introduced to some of the most notorious pirates such as Henry Morgan (best known today for the rum that carries his name) who swindled his way into becoming governor of Jamaica and Blackbeard, the most well-known pirate to go down in history. There is even mention of Charlotte du Berry, a female pirate who disguised herself as a man to rise through the ranks of the pirate world. Readers are also provided with plenty of juicy tidbits about the nooks and crannies of pirate ships. Even the identity of the best-dressed pirate is revealed.

Alex and the ironic gentlemanAlex and the Ironic Gentleman (Scholastic, $8.99)
by Adrienne Kress, ages 8 to 12

Tomboy Alexandra isn’t very fond of her school, Wigpowder-Steele Academy, a stuffy place where she doesn’t fit in. Fortunately, a new teacher named Mr. Underwood arrives and befriends Alex, even teaching her how to fence. But Mr. Underwood has a secret — he is the great-great-great grandson of a famous pirate and heir to some buried treasure. Soon, Mr. Underwood is kidnapped by pirates who want to him to reveal where the treasure is hidden. Alex decides she must save her teacher — and hopefully beat them to the treasure. With a great deal of wit and charm, author Adrienne Kress adds a satisfying pirate twist to this tradition of whimsical mysteries that get kids hooked on reading, and allow them to discover that books are the true treasures.

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