Pirates

Overview

Glamorous, swashbuckling, daring adventurers? Pirates have had good publicity for a long time. But they were really a bunch of misfits, thugs, and ne'er-do-wells who spent most of their time bored, waiting for a few moments of excitement and rich booty that could very well get them wounded or killed, or captured and executed. Still, a pirate's life was chosen by many, and this poetry collection describes the highs and lows and everything in between for those who swore the oath ...

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Overview

Glamorous, swashbuckling, daring adventurers? Pirates have had good publicity for a long time. But they were really a bunch of misfits, thugs, and ne'er-do-wells who spent most of their time bored, waiting for a few moments of excitement and rich booty that could very well get them wounded or killed, or captured and executed. Still, a pirate's life was chosen by many, and this poetry collection describes the highs and lows and everything in between for those who swore the oath of the Brotherhood.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Real pirates, Harrison's opening warns us, "were never heroes," and their lives "[were] not fun." In the twenty poems that follow, Harrison tries as hard as he can to dispel the glamour of piracy. The cycle of poems begins with pirate recruitment of homeless men sleeping with roaches. It continues to present the harsh and unyielding ship's rules and the brutal punishments for disobeying them, portray the boredom and bad food of life at sea, and leave its pirates marooned, defeated, chained, and preparing to die "without hope," meeting their fate "on hempen rope." And yet, as Harrison himself concedes, it is impossible to dispel the glamour of piracy; it simply can't be done! Because, still, a pirate "was . . . a pirate!" Harrison's poems only succeed in making the pirate life sound even more alluring, despite its seediness, squalor, hardship, and despair: "Gather ‘round, ye scurvy mates, I'm signing on a crew. . . .Ha! You're rotten through and through? Ye'll do." Burr's paintings perfectly depict both the gritty realism and doomed romance of pirate life. Hyper-realistic in style, almost photographic in the detailed depiction of every aspect of pirate life and death, they have such sweep and energy, with each pirate so individuated and personalized, that readers can live out their own pirate dreams simply by turning these pages. Includes an afterword of factual information about the history of piracy, a bibliography, and an engaging note about the collaboration between the painter and that poet that produced the book. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Large realistic paintings work with 20 narrative poems to describe the nitty-gritty details of pirate life. Nothing is sugarcoated. One young man is shown tied to a post, subjected to a whipping with a cat-o'-nine-tails. "Why is it always me?/Shouldn't a broke a rule...." The young man's face and body are tensed for the expected and dreaded pain. In another piece called "Trouble," a sunburned and tattooed crew member wonders if maybe he's about to be robbed of his share of the plunder. In "Captured," two pirates are shown in shackles, facing the hangman's noose. The final poem ends, "Farewell, then./I go to settle/for my sins." Burr's illustrations do a fine job of conveying the emotions of each poem and of showing the details of dress and shipboard life. An afterword further explains the unromantic world of piracy. This is a good choice for reading aloud in classrooms studying the topic, or for children interested in the real world of pirates.-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

Kirkus Reviews
Methinks the introduction doth protest too much. From the start Harrison attempts to deglamorize the piratical life with cold hard facts and sentences like, "The life of a pirate was not fun." Says you! As Burr's deeply realistic and heavily detailed paintings soon attest, piracy makes for exciting subject matter. Twenty poems in this collection detail every aspect of those scurvy lads' lives, from the terrible food and flogging to the fights and captures that went with the job. In giving a bit of realism to the subject matter, the poems can get downright brutal; a pirate youngling grunts-"Unh!"-with each lash of the "Cat-O'-Nine-Tails" as he regrets his rule-breaking. Yet while Harrison's poetry scans, his poems range from free verse to erratic rhymes (as when he rhymes "endure" with "yours" in "Ship's Rules"). Child readers will come for the subject matter, and they'll stay for the lush art. A section at the end offers additional information on what an average pirate's life would have been like. (bibliography) (Poetry. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590789124
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 695,407
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: AD650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.80 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

David L. Harrison is the author of more than 70 books that have sold over 15 million copies. Pirates, also illustrated by Dan Burr, was placed on the Texas Bluebonnet Award 2010-2011 Master List. Harrison is the recipient of many awards, including the Christopher Award and the Missouri Librarian Association Literacy Award for the body of his work. He lives in Springfield, Missouri.

Dan Burr was raised in northern Utah but went to the East to start his career as an illustrator. He returned to the West with his family and settled in the Teton Valley of Idaho, where they live today. He has illustrated a number of books for young readers, including Castles: Old Stone Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. He lives in Tetonia, Idaho.

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