Jean Laffite: The Pirate Who Saved America

Overview


This biography of the infamous pirate Jean Laffite is a real-life, action-packed adventure. Since he was a young boy, Jean longed to be a pirate, and with the help of his brothers and uncle, he became one when he was just a teenager. Soon the only life he knew was on the high seas—a life full of glory, riches, disaster, and revenge. When he finally settled down in New Orleans, he managed to become a successful businessman and respected citizen, while still pirating. He even helped the United States win the War ...
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Overview


This biography of the infamous pirate Jean Laffite is a real-life, action-packed adventure. Since he was a young boy, Jean longed to be a pirate, and with the help of his brothers and uncle, he became one when he was just a teenager. Soon the only life he knew was on the high seas—a life full of glory, riches, disaster, and revenge. When he finally settled down in New Orleans, he managed to become a successful businessman and respected citizen, while still pirating. He even helped the United States win the War of 1812 when he alerted the U.S. government to a British plot to invade via New Orleans. With the help of Laffite and his pirates, General Andrew Jackson was able to beat back the British.

Praise for Jean Laffite:
"Move over, Jack Sparrow, and make way for Jean Laffite. This well-informed narrative gives readers a sense of what was happening in the world at the time as well as what it was like to be a real pirate."
--School Library Journal

"Cinematic illustrations by Jeff Himmelman add to the excitement. Filled with fascinating facts and dynamic pictures, Jean Laffite: The Pirate Who Saved America is sure to captivate both pirate-loving children and their parents, as well."
--Jewish Book Council

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Move over, Jack Sparrow. Jean Laffite grew up hearing stories of how his Jewish family was persecuted in Spain and forced to flee to Port-au-Prince in what is now Haiti. Carrying a letter of marque from France, Laffite (c. 1776–c. 1823) and his brothers sailed the high seas, capturing vessels flying the Spanish flag. Debut illustrator Himmelman’s copper-toned digital illustrations are warm and cinematic: whether Laffite is staring down his enemy on a ship engulfed in flames or looking fiercely contemplative as leader of the first “pirate convention,” he emerges as a handsome and magnetic hero. Readers will be captivated by this exciting story of a little known privateer. Endnotes offer more in-depth biographical information, including Laffite’s conflicted attitude toward slavery and the possibility that he faked his own death. Ages 6–9. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Move over, Jack Sparrow, and make way for Jean Laffite. Pirate enthusiasts will appreciate this well-researched picture-book biography of a Jewish pirate of the Caribbean, born in the early 1780s. Many Jews were kicked out of Spain and other parts of Europe at this time. Laffite's family fled to the New World and settled in Saint-Domingue, later renamed Haiti. As a boy, he longed to be a pirate like his oldest brother, who often brought him gifts from his travels. Fueled by his hatred for Spain, he eventually became a privateer, that is, a pirate with a license to capture and loot Spanish ships. Laffite seized many a Spanish schooner, became rich, fought duels, and even got marooned with his family on a desert island. In 1808, the pirates held a convention and elected him their leader. Though the Governor of Louisiana appealed to President James Madison to help eradicate pirates, the War of 1812 gave Laffite the opportunity to prove himself a hero to the American government. The impressionistic paintings were done in Photoshop with a Wacom Tablet using a palette primarily of grays and browns. The text is too lengthy for a read aloud, but young swashbucklers will enjoy reading it on their own. This well-informed narrative gives readers a sense of what was happening in the world at the time as well as what it was like to be a real pirate.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Who knew that some pirates in the old days were Jewish and fought on the side of the good guys? Mateys, meet Jean Laffite, a real pirate of the Caribbean. Rubin's slim book begins in what is now Haiti with Laffite's early days as a descendant of Spanish Jews. She moves on to his "career" as a successful privateer and smuggler and then to his fighting alongside Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. Wise to the ways of the bayous and marshes, knowledge crucial to American defenses, Laffite also supplied Jackson with troops and ammunition. Amazingly, the fierce battle was over quickly and the British trounced. Thereafter, all was forgiven, as Lafitte and his pirates were proclaimed heroes and lauded for bravery and patriotism. Details about the rest of his life remain spotty in the historical record. While several of Laffite's nefarious exploits are recounted here, they're told in a matter-of-fact tone that doesn't make them sound as exciting and dangerous as they had to have been. The paintings rendered in muted colors are fairly stiff, though some add atmosphere and rousing flavor. Lafitte is depicted as heavily buckled in the illustrations; too bad he doesn't come across as more swashbuckling. Still, this will suffice as an introduction for die-hard pirate fans and add an interesting, quirky footnote to American history. (author's note, bibliography, index) (Picture book/biography. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810997332
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 983,905
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Goldman Rubin is the author of many biographies for young readers, including Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter and Degas and the Dance. She lives in Malibu, California. Jeff Himmelman is an art director in the video game industry. This is his first picture book.

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