Posts tagged ‘Pirates’

Ned the Knitting Pirate

Ned the Knitting Pirate.jpgTitle: Ned the Knitting Pirate
Author: Diana Murray
Illustrator: Leslie Lammle
ISBN: 9781596438903
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, c2016.

We’re pirates, we’re pirates, out sailing the sea
So scruffy and scrappy and happy are we.
We’re tougher than gristle and barnacle grit.
We heave, and we ho, and we swab, and we . . .

KNIT! Or at least that’s what Ned does. The other pirates, especially the captain, aren’t so enthusiastic about Ned’s hobby, and orders the needles to be stowed. But Ned’s knitting might be the only things that saves the Rusty Heap from becoming an ocean beast’s feast. Jaunty, rollicking rhymes can be sang as a sea shanty, although the uneven numbering scheme makes a sometimes rough transition from the narration to the song the pirate’s sing, which gets repeated but not verbatim. Readers get an advanced glimpse of the threatening sea monster (resembling if Slimer from Ghostbusters had been crossed with an octopus and a mermaid’s tail) on the title page, along with a fully clothed mermaid (she wears a shirt instead of a bikini top) who seems to be its caretaker. It’s little details like that, along with the anthropomorphic critters scattered throughout the ship and the ever-growing knitting project which matches Ned’s knit, tri-cornered hat, that add whimsy to the story. Keep in your trunk for a new spin on Talk Like a Pirate Day in September.

Two Roaring Press Books about knitting in the same year (the other one being Leave Me Alone, being reviewed tomorrow)! Is this one of those weird trends that pop up on occasion?


We Forgot Brock!

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

We Forgot Brock.jpgTitle: We Forgot Brock!
Author/Illustrator: Carter Goodrich
ISBN: 9781442480902
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2015.

The weird thing about Philip’s friend Brock, dressed in garb reminiscent of a pirate, is that nobody else can see him and everyone calls him “Philip’s Imaginary Friend.” After a day at the fair, Philip falls asleep and Brock gets left behind. Luckily, a girl named Anne and her own imaginary friend named Princess Sparkle Dust find Brock and bring him home with them. Will Brock and Philip ever find each other again? Watercolor illustrations portray the imaginary friends in childish, crayon like states very different from the rest of the more detailed drawings, although if you look carefully you’ll notice they still cast shadows. The problem is neatly solved and everyone makes a new friend in the end. The story is realistically childlike, down to Philip posting “Lost” flyers, which prove surprisingly effective! A sweet story perfect to share with children who may have their own imaginary friend.

Pirate’s Lullaby

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Pirate's LullabyTitle: Pirate’s Lullaby
Author: Marcie Wessels
Illustrator: Tim Bowers
ISBN: 9780375973529
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, c2015.

”Yo, ho, ho! Me lad, heave ho! It’s time to go to bed,”
Papa Pirate told his first mate, not-so-sleepy Ned.
“But me mates are weighin’ anchor, sailin’ for the Seven Seas!
Can’t I play a little longer? Ten more minutes, please?”

Author Marcie Wessels weaves a surprising amount of pirate lingo into this story of a boy named Ned and his father getting ready for bedtime. With lines ranging from thirteen to fifteen syllables, a sing-song cadence quickly develops and only gets stronger as the story progresses. The rosy-cheeked rascal pulls all the stops with a search for teddy, a drink, and a story are all implored upon by the fast fading Papa pirate, until at last one of them is asleep (hint, it’s not little Ned). Enjoy the equally delightful aquatic themed details in the drawings, like the octopus sippy cup, the peg-legged and eye-patched stuffed animal, and the titles of the books on the bookshelf. You might have your own mutiny on your hands as pint-sized pirates request a second retelling.

Monster Needs a Party

Monster Needs a PartyTitle: Monster Needs a Party
Author: Paul Czajak
Illustrator: Wendy Grieb
ISBN: 9781938063558
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Mighty Media Kids, an imprint of Mighty Media Press, a division of Mighty Media, Inc., c2015

Monster needs a party since another year has passed.
He skipped and roared around the house, “My birthday’s here AT LAST!”

Monster is so excited for his pirate themed birthday, but then he learns that no one can come. Facing a kid’s worst nightmare, the kid who cares for Monster takes him to a pirate amusement park instead, where they have fun riding the rides and playing the carnival games, coming home to one final surprise. I’ll admit that the pictures make me question the dynamics of the world as the boy is the only one in the entire park with a monster in tow instead of a parent. We see adults at the Pirate Land as parents and employees, so where are they in the lives of Monster and his boy? Besides this detail, the story is a rollicking ride, and the rhymes flow well. The pictures are filled with bright bold colors, and author and illustrator both got quite clever with the details of Pirate Land. Pirates and monsters together merge two popular concepts together, although if there’s an upcoming birthday boy or girl in the audience they may think their next party is going to end up just like Monster’s did.

The Runaway King

Runaway KingTitle: The Runaway King
Series: Ascendance Trilogy #2 (sequel to The False Prince)
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Narrator: Charlie McWade
ISBN: 9780545497695 (audiobook)
Pages: 331 pages
CD/Discs: 7 CDs, 8 hours 27 minutes
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Audiobooks, c2013.

Newly crowned King Jaron is convinced that the neighboring community of Avenia is set to attack and claim their land, but none of his advisers will listen to the mad king who just resumed the throne after his presumed death at the hands of pirates years ago. When a failed assassination attempt convinces his advisers to hand over a captured traitor in the hopes of placating the group, Jaron fears they will relieve him of his crown in order to send him into hiding. Instead, Jaron puts his own plan into play, which involves sneaking across the border and tracking down the pirates who are trying to complete the unfinished task and collect on the spoils of war. As Jaron’s past catches up with him, he wonders which of his assumed identities he will have to maintain in order to survive. Is he an orphan boy, a street thief, a prospective pirate, or the ruling sovereign of a kingdom in danger? His strength, stamina, and smarts are put to the test in a political game that everyone thinks he will fail.

Jaron is an arrogant, dishonest, insolent, manipulative, overconfident, sarcastic, self-righteous, and stubborn individual, and I can definitely see why his departed father’s advisers would not get along with him. Jaron has his own way of doing things and refuses to listen to anyone’s concerns unless he has no other option. On the other hand, he usually proves himself right by the end of the adventure. I’m not sure if it is maddeningly coincidental that things happen to go his way or just a way for author Jennifer Nielsen to prove his unflappability in the face of obstacles. Scaling a rock wall with a broken leg is not something I would attempt, but he faces it with a determination that you think would ultimately be detrimental to his cause, if not his body. His physical endurance and ability to read his opponent and maintain charades and mind games makes him appear superhuman. And yet, you can’t help rooting for him to succeed and yelling at him to don’t do something stupid that you predict is going to fail.

Jaron’s journey is filled with delays, and it’s a wonder he gets where he needs to be at all. While realistic to the vast distances he needs to cross and the dangers he faces, it does slow down the pace of the plot. In return, you have daring sword fights with his enemies that are over in a manner of minutes at most. A lot of political scheming and plotting is presented, and while I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would, some readers might want more of the fight and flee action that most fantasies have today. We’re privy to Jaron’s inner thoughts regarding his reasoning, but sometimes only as he tells another character his plans. The audiobook proved slightly problematic, as Jaron’s inner thoughts are sometimes indistinguishable from the dialogue. However, I thought Charlie McWade did an acceptable job distinguishing between the accents and tones of the older advisers, Jaron, the pirates, and his younger friends.

Obviously a set-up for the third novel, with the upcoming conflict revealed in the final chapter of the book, I feel like this suffered the sequel syndrome and didn’t live up to my expectations of the first one. Some readers might remember that I was on the committee that chose The False Prince, the first book in the series, for a Cybils award when it was published in 2012. Knowing who Jaron really is cut down on the tension and intrigue, and the ending, while leaving enough unfinished business for a third book, came about a bit too cleanly. I’m sure Jaron would think privately that it was anything but easy, although he would never voice his frustrations or admit to his limitations aloud. That’s just not his style. It’s a trip of endurance, and many readers might question what they would do in that same situation, never fully understanding Jaron’s motivations or his innate ability to overcome adversity.

Talk Like a Pirate Day Picture Books

ARRRRRRRRR me matey! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Never heard of it? Where is your pirate spirit? It’s an excuse to celebrate all things pirate, and a great theme for story times that will draw the sprogs (errr… I mean boys and girls) into the library. And I be speaking the truth, seeing as how my two pirate story times this week drew over 60 people each. So, what do you do at a pirate story time? Here’s the outline that I followed, along with some other idears for you lilly-livered landlubber.

Title: Roger the Jolly Pirate
Author/Illustrator: Brett Helquist
ISBN: 0066238056
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: HarperCollins Publishers, c2004.
While this is probably the longest and most detailed of the three stories I did, it’s also the most fun for older preschoolers. They feel smarter than poor Roger the Jolly Pirate as he tries to bake a cake in a cannon during a fight above deck. His misadventures end of saving the day as the cannon cake propels him through the air, shrieking and covered in flour, causing the Admiral and his men to think the pirate ship is haunted and abandon ship. The satisfaction on their faces for guessing the outcome is priceless. It also is a cool por-qua story for how the Jolly Roger flag came about and got its name, and considering the Jolly Roger flag is seen in the next couple stories, it’s a nice beginning. I interrupted the story with my own explanations about what was going on when I felt the vocabulary was over their head. For instance, especially when it talked about Roger not knowing the leeward from the starboard or the mizzen from the mast, I just added that those were all “parts of a ship”. Otherwise, a great read with a clandestine moral of everyone is able to help or do something in some way.

Title: Sheep on a Ship
Author: Nancy Shaw
Illustrator: Margot Apple
ISBN: 0395481600
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
I stumbled across this one quite by accident, and instantly fell in love with it due to its simplicity. Most pirate books have a lot of text, but this one, with its rhyming narration and clear pictures make it perfect for younger audiences. Nothing in the text suggests pirates, but the additions in Margot Apple’s pictures of a Jolly Roger and bandanas on each sheep make it obvious that they are pirates instead of, for instance, navy seamen.

Title: I Love My Pirate Papa
Author: Laura Leuck
Illustrator: Kyle M. Stone
ISBN: 9780152056643
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Harcourt, 2007

The newest of the three books, I chose this one because it again it was in rhyme, which in my experience seems to capture kids attentions just a little better than longer text. It also gave a nice overview of what pirates do, such as digging for treasure. And it gave all the kids a chance to consider pirates as parents, instead of just scary grown-ups. It painted a positive picture of pirates.

In between each story, we did a rhyme to break up the readings. The first one I did was “A sailor went to sea, sea, sea.” While singing the song, I had the kids either crouch down or stand up every time they heard the word sea and stay that way until the next time they heard sea. So, it went something like this, starting from a standing up position:
A sailor went to sea (down), sea (up), sea (down)
To see (up) what he could see (down), see (up), see (down)
But all that he could see (up) see (down) see (up)
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea (down), sea (up) sea (down)
Then we did it a second time, starting from the crouched down position, so that we ended standing up again. It was a lot of fun, and even some parents got involved.

We also did “There Was a Pirate had a bird and Polly was his name-o”, obviously to the tune of Bingo. I had a parrot puppet on one hand, so when clapping out the letters, I lifted up and slapped my knee with the other hand, which worked pretty well, and kind of gave me the look of a one-legged pirate possibly dancing a reel.

Finally, I did the song “The Waves on the Sea”, which is to the tune “The Wheels on the Bus”. Each verse has an accompanying action.
The Waves on the sea go up and down. (more kneeling and standing up in unison with the words up and down)
Up and down, up and down.
The waves on the sea go up and down
All day long.

The fish in the sea goes swish, swish, swish… (put your hands together, palms touching, and move them side to side in front of you each time you say “swish”)

The pirates on the sea go “Ahoy Matey, Ahoy Matey, Ahoy Matey”… (give a salute for each Ahoy Matey)

The shark in the sea goes snap, snap, snap… (hold arms out straight in front of you and clap your hands together three times)

More fun rhymes are available online by searching “Pirate story time”. One site I especially like is Born Librarian’s list of rhymes, and I wish I’d had time to incorporate some of them.

I had several craft opportunities for the kids after the stories and rhymes were done.

  • Make a spyglass by gluing a piece of black construction paper to a paper towel roll. It works better if you apply the glue to one end of the paper, start rolling, and then put some glue on the remainder of the paper.
  • Make a toilet paper parrot. The instructions are right here, and are extremely easy to make. I pre-cut the feathers and the rectangles that served as the body, and provided googly eyes. Only one parent/child missed the beak and decided to make their own, so I don’t think the beak is necessary.
  • The template for a whole sheet of pirate eye patches are available here. Again, I pre-cut them all out, and the provided hole punchers and scissors to cut the thread to the right size.
  • We had some leftover cut up black plastic table cloths from a program over the summer. I printed off a skull and crossbones picture on white paper, and had the attendees glue a printout to the plastic table cloths to make a pirate flag to take home.
  • We made tri-corner hats out of construction paper. Cut three pieces of paper into identical shapes and then staple them together into a triangle, leaving the middle open in order to slide on your head. This site provides an example, but what I did was made the sides shorter and had them curve upward and meet in the middle, so each strip looked like it had a hill. If this doesn’t sound right, picture those very simple/generic car drawings without the wheels, and you’ve got the general shape we made.

And of course, you have to remember to dress the part. Striped stockings or tights, goucho “pants”, a striped shirt or a white ruffled shirt, and maybe a vest or sash will make you look the part. Don’t forget the bandana, earring, and maybe even a hook or sword. There are obviously quite a few other pirate stories and crafts available. What have you used successfully in the past?

The Unsinkable Walker Bean

Title: The Unsinkable Walker Bean
Written and Illustrated by: Aaron Renier 
Colored by Alex Longstreth 
ISBN: 9781596434530
Pages: 192 pages
Publisher/Date: First Second, c2010.

“Somewhere, in the middle of the ocean…off the coast of an uncharted island chain… there is a TRENCH. For miles it dives beneath the ocean’s floor… past smoke-stacks… spewing boiling, toxic sulfur… Here, where sunlight cannot reach… Here, live the strangest of the strange. Here, live the most evil of the evil Here, in the deepest, darkest spot, the very bottom of the ocean, dwell Tartessa and Remora, the evil Merwitch sisters. Slowly, in their pitch black cell, they began to lose their powers, which dripped out of them like silvery glowing molasses. Desperate to hold on, they devised a plan. They scooped up the remains of their enemies. And like an oyster forms a pearl, they swished the skulls and bones in their thick, nacre saliva… And when they were coated and transformed into magical bone-shaped pearls… they SPAT tem onto the seabed. And then stacked them up like a brick wall… Each enchanted skeleton reflected the secrets of its former life. The past, present, and future laid out before the sisters. Collectively the omniscient wall projected a near perfect picture of the world above. Their prison became their auditorium of knowledge. Even now… they can see us. The visions from the wall are so STRONG that only those with HEART and BLOOD as THICK as theirs can gaze into it without going into shock and dying. But what would be the price to pay to look into just ONE bone? A SNIFFLE? A COUGH? I’d risk that, to possibly get any answers to my long list of questions.” (1-8)

Walker Bean’s grandfather falls ill after coming into possession of one of the bones. The old Admiral tasks William, Walker’s father, to take the skull back to the Merwitch sisters, believing it’s his only chance of survival. Walker’s father is approached by a suspicious doctor with a better deal; sell the skull to a wealthy merchant. Complications arise though when pirates steal the skull to find the hidden treasures of Atlantis and Walker ends up on their ship. How is he going to get the skull away from a ship full of pirates?

I was engrossed by this graphic novel. The author’s note at the back of the book goes into great detail about how the illustrations came about, and that detail is taken on the actual story. It’s a great kick-off to what appears to be a series, with a sneak peek provided of the second book’s illustrations. While the main storyline wraps up nicely, there’s still enough intrigue and unanswered questions to keep readers waiting for the sequel. The artwork is stunning, and I chuckled at what appears to be references to Where’s Waldo and Family Circus in the market scene on pages 71-72. (Can you find the pirate Waldo?) Other supporting characters are also scattered throughout that double page spread if you look carefully enough.

Aaron Renier has created an entire mythology surrounding these Merwitch Sisters, and you can just hear the Jaws theme music when they make their first appearance. Readers will love the action, from lobster clawed merwitches to swashbuckling pirates and explosive battle sequences. In fact, the battle sequences have a comic book quality, with words like “POW!” and “CHH-PPA-KRAKK” splitting across the page in bright yellows, oranges, and reds that starkly contrast against the dark blues and purples that permeate the murky, moody, and watery depths.

There are some fantastical elements mixed in with Walker’s “scientific” inventions, including a mechanical kitchen appliance and a “message in a bottle” that seems to be its own postal service. You have to suspend your rationality regarding these items. It’s impossible to explain how experienced pirates don’t realize that they’re on the wrong course. It seems impossible that a crew of pirates can transform a beached ship into a water-worthy vessel in less than 24 hours. But that’s what happens, and you’re willingly to ignore those minor details as you pulled along and into the book. It’s MacGyver meets Harry Potter as the bespectacled boy and his two sidekicks rush to return a magical item to it’s rightful place. Pick up and enjoy.

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