NONFICTION

Who Wants To Be a Pirate?: What It Was Really Like in the Golden Age of Piracy

Holt. Nov. 2019. 32p. bibliog. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805097702.
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K-Gr 3–This humorous book provides a more realistic view of sea-roving thieves. Cartoon illustrations introduce our guide, Captain Parrot, along with his ship and crew. Full-bleed spreads include small chunks of information, making the book accessible to a young audience. The pirate ship looks more like a floating farm, with livestock and people crowded together, than a terrifying war vessel. Pirates faced storms, dwindling food supplies, and rough conditions. Captain Parrot discusses the excitement of battling another ship but also acknowledges the lack of medical care for the injured or sick. The pirates would take whatever the other ship had, which was more likely to be meat, cotton, or candles than treasure. One illustration shows the pirates dressing up in stolen fine clothes, including a fancy ball gown. An informative author’s note explains why pirating was tolerated for a long period of time, why some men would choose to live on a pirate ship rather than work on a merchant vessel, and when the military began arresting pirates. The cover image of a small dog lifting its leg on the ship’s wheel reflects the tone of the book—historical facts infused with a large dose of silliness.
VERDICT This title would be a useful addition to pirate-themed activities or storytimes.

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