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
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.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Long's dry, tongue-in-cheek humor serves as an ideal springboard for Shannon's gleefully madcap illustrations."
School Library Journal
"Readers will be blown away by this rowdy gang, depicted in richly robust, humorous paintings."
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.
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)
"Caldecott Honor-winner Shannon spices up this spirited pirate tale with vivid, appropriately zany acrylics."
"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."