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The Gingerbread Pirates
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The Gingerbread Pirates

4.4 8
by Kristin Kladstrup, Matt Tavares (Illustrator)

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What if a brave Captain Cookie stood up to Santa? A fresh, funny story that sparkles with all the excitement of a pirate adventure — and all the magic of Christmas morning.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Jim and his mother are making pirate gingerbread men to leave for Santa. Jim’s favorite is Captain Cookie, who carries a gingerbread cutlass


What if a brave Captain Cookie stood up to Santa? A fresh, funny story that sparkles with all the excitement of a pirate adventure — and all the magic of Christmas morning.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Jim and his mother are making pirate gingerbread men to leave for Santa. Jim’s favorite is Captain Cookie, who carries a gingerbread cutlass and has a toothpick peg leg. The captain is much too good to be eaten, so Jim keeps him close by his bed. But late that night, when Jim is fast asleep, Captain Cookie steptaps away on a daring adventure to find his pirate crew — and rescue them from that mysterious character he’s heard about: a cannibal named Santa Claus. At once contemporary and timeless, suspenseful and joyous, this masterfully illustrated tale is destined to be a new holiday classic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A boy makes a gingerbread pirate crew on Christmas Eve; his mom leaves most of the pirates for Santa, but the boy takes the captain to his room. As the boy sleeps, the captain—sporting a ruffled shirt made of icing and a toothpick peg leg—makes his way downstairs (“Where's my crew? he wondered. And who's this Santa Claus who wants to eat them?”). Luckily, Santa ends up being a friend who gives the pirates a ship of their own. Swashbuckling gusto and a poignant finish should make this a new favorite. Ages 4–10. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Leona Illig
On Christmas Eve, young Jim and his mother make a batch of gingerbread men in the form of pirates. His mother tells Jim to leave the pirate gingerbread men out for Santa to eat, but Jim rescues his favorite, "Captain Cookie," and takes him back to his room. That night, Captain Cookie comes alive. He begins to worry about "that cannibal, Santa Claus" eating the rest of his crew. After a series of adventures, Captain Cookie comes face to face with Santa Claus, who shows the Captain what Christmas is all about. When Jim wakes up the next morning, he finds a brand new toy pirate ship that is complete with a pirate captain and crew, just like his gingerbread men. Unfortunately, this story is apt to elicit some awkward questions from children, not the least of which is "What is a cannibal?" The answer—that a cannibal is an animal that feeds on the flesh of its own species—is not likely to make the holiday season more enjoyable. (Astute adults and children will recognize that the term is not used correctly in the story and wonder why it is used at all.) There are also some disconnects in the story that may puzzle children, such as the sudden appearance of a "black cloud" from nowhere. Reviewer: Leona Illig
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3–After Jim and his mother bake pirate gingerbread men for Santa’s snack, toothpick-legged Captain Cookie undertakes a daring rescue of his crew from the hungry–but understanding–Santa Claus, who works a magical transformation. When Jim awakes Christmas morning, he finds under the Christmas tree not only a magnificent toy pirate ship, but also a peg-legged captain and crew onboard. An exciting story and full-page, dramatically composed paintings depicting harrowing adventures with a mouse, a cat, and the crew imprisoned in a cookie jar make this a good holiday read-aloud.–Maureen Wade, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Captain Cookie is a gingerbread pirate, leader of a batch of buccaneer cookies baked by a boy named Jim and his mom. On Christmas Eve, a plate of the gingerbread pirates is left out for Santa, and Captain Cookie tries to save his men before they are eaten. When Santa arrives, he promises not to eat the pirates and shows them what he has left under the tree: a pirate ship. Captain Cookie and his men take over the ship, and during the night they are transformed by Christmas magic into toy pirates to complete Jim's Christmas present. Illustrator Tavares handles this transformation subtly, and children will enjoy marking the switch from cookie to toy. An extra-large format makes this a fine choice for reading aloud to a group. (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 11.40(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Kristin Kladstrup is the author of the middle-grade novel THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

Matt Tavares is the illustrator of LADY LIBERTY by Doreen Rappaport; JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, retold by E. Nesbit; and ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. He lives in Ogunquit, Maine.

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The Gingerbread Pirates 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
sunsh1n6 More than 1 year ago
It is so well written, humorous and captivating for children. We even baked and decorated our own crew of gingerbread Pirates! They were such fun and Yummy, too! I love books that springboard children into action. And this one certainly did!
Anonymous 4 months ago
One of my favorite gingerbread stories, and a must have to add to your home library add it to your christmas section.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
teachermomNJ More than 1 year ago
The gingerbread stories get old after a while but the spin on making cookies that come alive into pirates is adorable. My boys, 3 and 6, LOVE it. I have to admit, mom loves it too! The subtle humor of pirate cookies making their way to their ship is a great story line. Santa's involvement is great!
Jenn75 More than 1 year ago
Great book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 4-year old son loves this book. It's a terrific story with wonderful pictures. I'm sure we'll read it at Christmas time for several more years.
vegechik More than 1 year ago
Bought this for my then-4 year old son last Christmas, and would definitely recommend it. Cute story and illustrations, along with a "Christmas magic" moment at the end. My son and two daughters (aged 2 and 9) all enjoyed it, and we have read it many times since then.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My Boys loved this book. They requested to reread it many times. It is our new Christmas favorite.