The Pirates of Crocodile Swamp

( 3 )


A long way from home, Sandy and Jack Casperin escape their abusive father and disappear into Crocodile Swamp, a remote wilderness in the Florida Keys. With nothing but their wits and limited supplies, the boys must learn to fend for themselves as they survive surrounded by snakes, massive crocodiles and a territorial hammerhead shark.

But it is only with the help of newfound friends?a local girl their age, and an old sailor (who might be a real pirate!)? that they can truly ...

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The Pirates of Crocodile Swamp

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A long way from home, Sandy and Jack Casperin escape their abusive father and disappear into Crocodile Swamp, a remote wilderness in the Florida Keys. With nothing but their wits and limited supplies, the boys must learn to fend for themselves as they survive surrounded by snakes, massive crocodiles and a territorial hammerhead shark.

But it is only with the help of newfound friends?a local girl their age, and an old sailor (who might be a real pirate!)? that they can truly escape from their tragic past and make a new life for themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

Sandy, 11, and Jack, 9, are growing up under rough circumstances in 1982. Their father is abusive and frequently drunk; their mother is distant and depressed. When their dad accidentally causes the death of their four-year-old brother, things get even worse. One day he picks them up from school and speeds away from their Pennsylvania home, not stopping until they reach the Florida Keys. The boys assume that he beat their mother to death. Jack, who loves TV nature programs, hates his father and wants to escape. He convinces the more practical Sandy that they should gather supplies, find a boat, and flee to Crocodile Swamp, a nature preserve, where their father will never come after them. They steal some of his money, are soon living on a crocodile-infested island, and meet an old Cuban fisherman who just might have once been a pirate. Pirates is an exciting story, with plenty of Arnosky's trademark insight into the delights and dangers of the natural (and human) world. The prose is direct and gripping, the characterization strong, and the story includes just enough of the author's illustrations to enrich the fast-moving tale.-Walter Minkel, Austin Public Library, TX

Kirkus Reviews
After a wild ride down I-95 with their unpredictably violent father, Sandy and Jack Casperin find themselves in the Florida Keys, far from home. Escaping the man who accidentally killed their younger brother and maybe their mother, the boys, 11 and nine, head for a crocodile swamp, hoping to hide and live off the land. Arnosky's passion for this part of the world is evident, and the mangrove-swamp setting becomes the focus of this survival story. An unlikely situation and minimally developed characters will not keep readers from being caught up in the action as the boys encounter crocodiles, a hammerhead shark and poisonous snakes, as well as less dangerous creatures and a helpful, elderly Cuban fisherman living nearby on a boat. Jack is an enthusiastic nature watcher, full of information that he happily passes on to his older brother, who tells the story, and to readers. Pilot-pen sketches decorate the pages and open each chapter. This sure-to-please adventure for middle-grade readers is a promising new direction for the prolific nature writer. (Fiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399250682
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/5/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 801,159
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Arnosky

Jim Arnosky is well known for his "keen observations of nature and his fine artistic talent" (School Library Journal). He has written and illustrated many children’s books. Otters Under Water was called "first-rate natural history for the youngest" by Kirkus Reviews (pointer review), and School Library Journal wrote that in it "each of his creatures exhibits a distinct individualism." Every Autumn Comes the Bear was called "vibrant, translucent and strikingly composed" by Publishers Weekly, and Booklist wrote "Arnosky's radiant pictures have a dazzling sense of pattern and composition . . . and a sense of mystery. A beautiful, imaginative, and informative approach." School Library Journal said of Rabbits & Raindrops, “Perfect for story-time or lap-time reading, this book will give children a feeling of security and contentment.”

Jim Arnosky and his family live on a twenty-acre farm in Vermont.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Adventurous and Fun - Recommended

    This adventure story has the flavor of "Huckleberry Finn," but with a modern twist. The fast paced action is fulfilling for a younger reader yet the story is thought provoking as the characters deal with some dark and tragic issues.

    Eleven-year-old Sandy and his younger brother "Jungle Jack", who is knowledgeable about survival tactics from watching television, escape from their abusive father into Crocodile Swamp. These realistic characters are well developed as part of their adventure is internal. They struggle with the short-comings of their parents and the death of their youngest brother.

    Their father has kidnapped the brothers from their neglectful mother in Philadelphia and has taken them to the Keys of southern Florida. The setting of this story is well described and plays an integral part of the story line. One can easily see that the author knows and loves this part of America. It is fun to read how Sandy and Jack fear, struggle against, learn about, and finally love the swamps of the Florida Keys in the person-against-nature aspect of the story.

    The first-person point of view, which is that of Sandy, makes the adventures of the story even more exciting to the younger reader as they may feel the same apprehension, fear, discovery, and elation that Sandy felt.

    Facing the short-comings of one's parents can be difficult for a young boy. But with understanding, forgiveness, and the love of a brother, a young person can become an honorable adult despite the perils of their youth.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    First book my reluctant-reader son ever wanted to read twice

    My 12yo son hated to read, until we picked this up at the library. He read it through in one day. And he requested this book for a birthday present! I also read it, and found it a compelling adventure of two boys who are taken from their home by their angry dad after the loss of their younger brother and the disappearance of their mom. The book does not dwell on the unfortunate incidents, but I would say that it would be best for the over-10 crowd.
    It covers the adventures of the boys as they escape from their dad and hide out in a mangrove swamp. One of the brothers uses his knowledge of nature to help them navigate the dangers of the swamp. There are some good and kind folks who befriend them and help them. It does have a happy ending.
    My son would love for Mr. Arnosky to write more novels!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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