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How I Became a Pirate Hardcover – September 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

Young Jeremy Jacob is plucked from obscurity while innocently constructing a sand castle and is thrust into a brand-new life as a pirate. Captain Braid Beard and his crew recognize Jeremy as an exceptionally talented digger and they happen to be in desperate need of a digger to help them bury a treasure chest. Jeremy thinks a pirate life sounds like fun, as long as he’s back the next day in time for soccer practice, and so he goes along with the ragtag group of seafaring thugs (with hearts of gold, naturally). And while Jeremy adores the pirates’ lack of table manners and opposition to vegetables, he comes to realize that a life away from his parents lacks some of the niceties to which he’s become accustomed. Nobody tucks him in at night, for instance, and the only book available to read is a treasure map. Melinda Long’s story, narrated with a sense of boastful exaggeration by Jeremy, is full of a sense of high adventure that's lovingly evocative of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tales. David Shannon's illustrations, full of a goofy vibrancy, are a perfect accompaniment to the story. (Ages 4 to 8) --John Moe

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3-Long has selected an irresistible combination for this age group-pirates and soccer. Jeremy Jacob is building a sand castle when a pirate ship lands nearby. His parents are preoccupied with other chores, so he takes off for an adventure on the high seas to help the men bury their treasure chest. He learns that buccaneers don't bother with manners or bedtimes, which is just fine with him, but it also means no bedtime stories or being tucked in. He tries to teach the pirates to play soccer, at least until the ball gets swallowed by a shark. When a storm hits, forcing the crew to return to shore, Jeremy solves the dilemma of where to bury the treasure-in his own backyard. He even makes it home in time for soccer practice. Paired with Shannon's energetic acrylics of a colorful crew of pop-eyed, snaggly toothed pirates seen from a variety of zany viewpoints (including upside down) and a small boy who is clearly having the time of his life, this rollicking adventure is sure to be a favorite with the storytime crowd.
Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 44 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.; 1 edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152018484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152018481
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MELINDA LONG is a teacher and the author of the award-winning bestseller How I Became a Pirate. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

116 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L Edelen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If ever there were a children's book that played into every child's foibles, dreams, and tastes, it's Melinda Long's "How I Became a Pirate."
I've got to believe that just about everyone out there, young and old, will find something amusing and true to life in this fine children's offering.
A sand castle of unusual quality built by Jeremy Jacob attracts a misfit band of not-too-scary pirates in search of a master digger to help bury their ill-gotten booty. Jeremy soon finds that the pirate life is for him--staying up till all hours, saying "Arr," and foregoing vegetables. But after finding no one to tuck him in at night (in a hilarious pirate pile illustrated with great touches by David Shannon), Jeremy has second thoughts about a life on the seven seas. In the end, he gets the last laugh in a delicious little twist ending.
I will consistently go back to books like "How I Became a Pirate" for their gentle humor, wonderful illustrations, and pleasant reading that appeals to children. It's hard to go wrong with those qualities and you would go wrong if you passed up this delightful little book. I know my three year old son ate up every word and drawing in it. A surefire nominee for the 2004 Caldecott medal, in my opinion.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While kids have always loved pirates and the piratical life (Peter Pan, anyone?), the current pirate craze sweeping the nation is somewhat amazing. Suddenly there are pirate Saturday morning tv shows, an official Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), pirate movies making a mil, and pirate picture books. The breathtaking success of Melinda Long's, "How I Became a Pirate" is a little odd, but it couldn't have happened to a nicer story. Full of all the classic words and actions pirates partake of (with the possible exception of walking the plank) the book's a good hearted take on one boy's dream to be a scurvy dog.

Jeremy Jacob is the only person on the beach that notices when a pirate ship docks near the ocean shore. Jeremy, up until this moment, has been building a sand castle, yet the sight of the ship doesn't seem to get anyone's attention but his own. When Captain Braid Beard and his crew of seven see Jeremy's sand castle skills they are instantly impressed. They've a treasure to bury after all and Jeremy's just the lad to help them. Off he goes to join the pirate's life! There's a lot of "Aargh!"s and "landlubbers" to learn. Lots of talking with your mouth full, on board soccer (Jeremy teaches them how to play), and pillow fights. Unfortunately, Jeremy also learns that sweet comforts like getting tucked in ("No tucking!", the crew cried) getting a bedtime story, and receiving a goodnight kiss are lacking on this ship. After deciding that maybe he doesn't want to be a pirate after all, Jeremy finds the perfect place for his friendly crew to hide the booty. In the end, the pirates sail away happy and Jeremy goes back to his soccer practice.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Piper on May 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
We got this book for our son's fourth birthday. He is very much into pirates at the moment, and he LOVES this book. It has wonderful illustrations, good vocabulary, and a wonderful message about the fun of adventure and the comfort of returning home.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Marren VINE VOICE on August 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"How I became a Pirate" is one of those great kids' books that appeals to a much wider range of ages than the publisher suggests. His parents distracted by grown-up chores, Jeremy takes off with a band of pirates on a fantastic journey that in "real time" lasts less than a day. Along the way we learn pirates don't brush their teeth or eat vegetables--cool! But they also don't pay attention to the soothing bedtime rituals that this book will quickly become part of in your own home. Jeremy thinks better of his new career and goes home, along the way making sure the pirates return some day. The illustrations in this book are fantastic, with loads of little details and jokes that make it fresh each time--which is a good thing because your kids will demand multiple re-readings. It's well-worth investing in this one!
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What is it about pirates that intrigues children so much? We've got pirate movies, play figures, books, "The Pirates of Penzance," even the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Perhaps young Jeremy Jacob, borrowed by some wayward pirates for his digging skills (to hide the treasure, of course!), offers the best clue:

"But nobody tells pirates to go bed, to take a bath, or to brush their teeth... In addition, they don't change into pajamas-unless they want to. Pirates don't do anything they don't want to-except for maybe swabbing the decks.

Whether it be independence, riches, the potential to swear, or the boys' club ambiance, pirate stories are very popular, and "How I Became a Pirate" is one of the best comical turns at the genre. A motley crew notices Jacob's sandcastle building and digging talents (no rock music pun intended, pirate crews are just always motley) of colorful and friendly lost pirates:

"Ahoy thar, matey! Be this the Spanish Main?" "No," I said, "this is North Beach." The pirates decide to take him with them because they need a good digger. Now, frankly, this is kidnapping (see Kidnap, the great pirate story by R.L. Stevenson, by the way). Author Melinda Long handles this deftly: "I didn't think Mom and Dad would mind, as long as I got back in time for soccer practice the next day."

Jeremy Jacob has great fun with the personable pirates. He learns pirate manners (there aren't any) plays soccer on deck, and sits on a gigantic treasure chest, with a jeweled crown on his head and doubloons at his feet. Jeremy thinks he has found his calling.

However, there's a downside to piracy. Melinda Long starts slowly, as Jeremy notes that pirates' teeth are green since they don't have to brush them.
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