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How I Became a Pirate
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How I Became a Pirate

4.6 34
by Melinda Long, David Shannon (Illustrator)

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Pirates have green teeth—when they have any teeth at all. I know about pirates, because one day, when I was at the beach building a sand castle and minding my own business, a pirate ship sailed into view.
So proclaims Jeremy Jacob, a boy who joins Captain Braid Beard and his crew in this witty look at the finer points of pirate life by the


Pirates have green teeth—when they have any teeth at all. I know about pirates, because one day, when I was at the beach building a sand castle and minding my own business, a pirate ship sailed into view.
So proclaims Jeremy Jacob, a boy who joins Captain Braid Beard and his crew in this witty look at the finer points of pirate life by the Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator David Shannon and the storyteller Melinda Long. Jeremy learns how to say “scurvy dog,” sing sea chanteys, and throw food . . . but he also learns that there are no books or good night kisses on board: “Pirates don’t tuck.” A swashbuckling adventure with fantastically silly, richly textured illustrations that suit the story to a T.

Editorial Reviews

Child Magazine

"Caldecott Honor-winner Shannon spices up this spirited pirate tale with vivid, appropriately zany acrylics."
Teaching K-8

"A roaring good read."
San Diego Union-Tribune

"Shannon's illustrations... are a page-turning glory. Long's clever and spirited text leaves other pirate books in the bilge."
The Barnes & Noble Review
Ahoy, ye maties! Get ready for a seafaring look at the pros and cons of pirating in this adventurous tale from Melinda Long and Duck on a Bike illustrator David Shannon.

When Jeremy Jacob goes to the beach with his family, he doesn't expect to be invited by pirates to help bury their treasure chest. So with an "Aye! Treasure!" and a look of adventure in their eyes, the band of swashbucklers -- led by peg-legged Braid Beard -- whisk the boy off to their ship. At first, Jeremy is thrilled by the pirates' rowdy lifestyle, such as their bad "pirate manners" ("Braid Bears gulped his food and said, 'Hand over the meat!' 'The meat!' we all roared.") and their lawless bedtime ways, but he thinks twice after realizing that "Pirates don't tuck" anyone in, and when a storm hits the boat, "Nobody had time to sit close and tell me it would be over soon." Thankfully, though, the treasure gets buried and the pirates drop Jeremy off -- until the next time, whenever he's ready.

Filled with Shannon's jolly scenes of Jeremy cavorting with wild-eyed, scar-faced pirates, this imaginative treasure will bring out the "Aaargh!" in you. The illustrator's deep, lush colors are as fresh as a tropical ocean breeze, while Long's text makes for a terrifically thoughtful romp. One yo-ho-hilarious voyage! Matt Warner

Publishers Weekly
Landlubbers, take heart! Here's a tale of a lad who sets sail and finds he prefers the comforts of home. Equipped with pail and shovel, young Jeremy Jacob is happily constructing a sandcastle and moat when his day at the beach takes an unexpected turn. A ship sails in with a Jolly Roger raised on the mast, and the boy narrator runs to tell his parents. As with his No, David! and its sequels, Shannon plays off the straight text. "I tried to tell Mom, but she was busy slathering my baby sister with sunblock" inspires an illustration of the mother being assaulted by the infant (which also explains why she doesn't notice the boy's prolonged absence). When the crew hits the beach, they discover they're lost ("We must have taken a wrong turn at Bora Bora"), note Jeremy's skills with a shovel ("We've been needin' a digger like yourself. We've a chest of treasure to bury") and whisk the willing boy away. The buccaneers prove an agreeable lot at first, teaching him sea chanteys, pirate lingo and table manners ("Down the hatch!"; "Hand over the meat!"). But when bedtime rolls around (Shannon depicts a pillow fight in full swing), the pirates won't tuck him in ("No tucking!") or read him a story. The text's vigorous chorus-like repetitions invite aspiring maties to join in, and Long's dry, tongue-in-cheek humor serves as an ideal springboard for Shannon's gleefully madcap illustrations. The pirates are about as ragtag and dentally challenged a group of scurvy salts as ever sailed the high seas, and a clever visual surprise brings the shipboard adventure to a close. Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
"Readers will be blown away by this rowdy gang, depicted in richly robust, humorous paintings."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Long's dry, tongue-in-cheek humor serves as an ideal springboard for Shannon's gleefully madcap illustrations."
Children's Literature
Wannabe buccaneers of all ages will relish How I Became a Pirate. Melinda Young spins a rollicking yarn of Jeremy Jacob's adventures with Braid Beard and his green-toothed pirates. Rich in "pirate-speak," the book begs to be read aloud for the sheer joy of trumpeting phrases such as "Shiver me timbers!" and "Down the hatch, me laddies!" Treasure is buried, a fearsome storm braved and Jeremy delivered back to his parents' beach blanket in time for soccer practice. With humor and verve, Caldecott-winning illustrator David Shannon serves up a swashbuckling crew complete with eye patches, peg legs and enough bad teeth to fascinate all those kids who hate brushing. 2003, Harcourt, Ages 3 up.
—Mary Quattlebaum
Kirkus Reviews
Thanks to parrot-toting Braidbeard and his gloriously disreputable crew, a lad discovers the ups and downs of a pirate's life in this rousing mini-epic. His mom and dad busy on another part of the beach, young Jeremy happily joins a band of hook-handed, eye-patched, snaggle-toothed pirates aboard their ship, learning pirate table manners (none), enjoying a game of nautical soccer until a shark eats the ball, then happily retiring without having to brush teeth, or even don pajamas. But then Jeremy learns that pirates don't get tucked in, or get bedtime stories, and as for good night kisses-Avast! Worse yet, no one offers comfort when a storm hits. So, giving over the pirate's life, Jeremy shows the crew where to bury its treasure (his backyard), and bids them goodbye. Shannon outfits Braidbeard's leering, pop-eyed lot in ragged but colorful pirate dress, and gives his young ruffian-in-training a belt and bandanna to match. This isn't likely to turn pirate wannabees into landlubbers, but it will inspire a chorus of yo-ho-hos. (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 10.98(h) x 0.38(d)
470L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

MELINDA LONG is a teacher and the author of the award-winning bestseller How I Became a Pirate. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina.

DAVID SHANNON is the illustrator of many popular picture books, including How I Became a Pirate. His numerous awards include a Caldecott Honor for No, David! He lives in Burbank, California.

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How I Became a Pirate 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This short story is absolutely adorable. It will definately become one of our favorite bed-time stories. It is a great length for that time needed to settle down and a perfect encoragement to the imagination of little ones.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great childrens' book with a fun story and fabulous illustrations. One of those books that you wouldn't mind reading every night.
violinnm More than 1 year ago
Gabi, age 5, and Jack, age 3 are mesmerized by pirates and find this book thoroughly delightful. I would definitely buy more books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book and my son loves it! He has had it for a while, and we still read it regularly! They also did a short play about based on this book at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis, and it was fabulous as well. Both my son and daughter enjoy the story, and loved the play. I certainly recommend this for any child who is into pirates, even just a little! So Fun!!!
Ginamich07 More than 1 year ago
This book is a great book to read when my son is mad at me. It shows kids that their parents aren't so bad. My son thinks it would be great to go live somewhere else, but then I read him this story. The illustrations are awesome. The colors are vibrant. The whole story is sensational! Children will love the "pirate talk" and learning what a pirate is. The adventure is very exciting for little ones to be apart of. I would suggest this to all parents that just want to have fun reading to their child. It's also a book that I read again and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is a great..wonderful..I like it
MrsVerhoffclass More than 1 year ago
We enjoyed How I Became a Pirate.  The illustrations looked real. The words matched the illustrations.  We think it was funny and cute.  The part we thought was funny was when the Pirates walked on to the beach.  We liked reading the book and would recommend this book for kids 4 and up.
JHPJH More than 1 year ago
This was given to us as a gift. At the time my son, then 4 wasn't big into Pirates. But by age 5 were are into the idea and we both enjoy this read. Just a cute story.
Xnewspapereditor More than 1 year ago
My 3-year-old grandson who is smitten with pirates was likewise smitten with this book. How many consecutive times can you read a book to a kid?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my two-year old son's absolute favorites. He loves to participate in the story ... "UP YONDER POLE" ... the story is well-constructed and very engaging. Illustrations are top rate, but it's the "chorus lines" of the pirate crew that make this a hit. The periodic breaks in the story that allow all of us to shout out in response to Captain Braidbeard are fun. The story is cute, and it's a great length for before bedtime reading. A winner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have 5 grandsons (2-7) and all have loved this book! I have given this to little girls who enjoy it as much as my grandsons have! Parents and grandparents enjoy this too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Evans_Mom More than 1 year ago
My son loves this pirate book. We read it every night before bedtime.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book this summer to my camp kids who were boys, ages 6-8. It was a total hit. It was the start of our Pirate Day. Everyone loved the book. Great for read alouds- got a lot of laughs and discussion.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
While at the beach, a young boy named Jeremy Jacob looks up from his sand castle to find a pirate ship approaching the beach. He tries to tell his family, but they are all too busy, and no one notices when the pirates pull up in their rowboat and ask Jeremy if they have reached the Spanish Main. When he says no, they are at North Beach, the pirate captain notices Jeremy's sandcastle. They need a good digger, so they invite Jeremy along with them to bury their treasure. Life as a pirate starts out very exciting. Jeremy finds that pirate table manners don't include saying "please" or chewing with mouths closed. He doesn't have to eat vegetables (since there aren't any on board), and he even teaches the pirate crew how to play soccer before the ball ends up overboard in a shark's mouth. After a hardy pillow fight, Jeremy heads to bed without brushing his teeth...but he can't sleep. Pirates don't tuck in, or read bedtime stories. And when a terrible storm hits the ship, Jeremy is forgotten in the chaos, and being a pirate isn't much fun anymore. He'll have to do some quick thinking to escape the ship and get back home in time for soccer practice the next day. A hilarious read with goofy, guffaw-inducing illustrations, this whacky tale of a modern boy pirate teaches the important lesson that getting what you wish for is not always best. Even the bravest little pirates may realize after reading that a safe life at home, watching pirates in books and movies, may be more appealing than an actual life out at sea.
Kristen_Bottoms More than 1 year ago
Have you ever wanted to sail away on the ocean blue? Live a life a freedom with no rules, cares, or PARENTS! How I Became a Pirate is a wonderful tale of a boy who finds himself on an adventure with a ship full of pirates. He learns how to speak like a pirate, how to eat like a pirate, how to play like a pirate, and how to sleep like a pirate...BUT WAIT-who will tuck him in? Who will tell him a bedtime story? Who will kiss him goodnight? "Batten down the hatches" and set sail with this high sailing adventure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my son awhile back and we love it. He's into pirates right now, so this book definitely keeps his attention. I like how its interactive and gets him involved. Love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago