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I'm a divorced mom of 3 gluten-free daughters, devoted to finding time to read.

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Bentos for A Gaggle of Girls
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Swab the Deck!

We love pirates here. Love them. It is also currently spring cleaning season. If being told to “Swab the deck, me hearties!” helps them think of cleaning as a fun game instead of a parent-inspired torture, all the better!

Here are four great pirate picture books – all loved by my little reviewers (3-9) and me as the designated reader. They aren’t too long, and they aren’t too short.

Author Melinda Long and illustrator David Shannon have teamed up for two great pirate books. First comes How I Became a Pirate, and then the new release, Pirates Don’t Change Diapers. In the first book, Jeremy Jacob goes off with some pirates when his parents are busy at the beach. At first it’s all fun – pirates don’t have to brush teeth or eat spinach! But then no one reads stories or tucks him in at night! Jeremy Jacob helps kids see the good and not-so-good part of being a pirate. The illustrations are fabulous – you really get a feel for the excitement and fun, and then the discomfort of the pirate life. You’ll never believe where they end up burying the treasure! Jeremy Jacob makes sure he gets home for soccer practice, though!

The pirates return to visit Jeremy Jacob and dig up their treasure in the second book. Mom has gone to run an errand, and dad is taking a nap. Of course, the pirate’s loud talk wakes up Jeremy Jacob’s baby sister Bonney Anne, so the pirates become babysitters! David Shannon’s illustrations again illuminate the great story – his pictures really pop off the page. The ups and downs of pirates babysitting and searching for their treasure after Bonney Anne eats some of the map are so much fun to read. This book (along with its predecessor) are great – fun for everyone and happily in the rotation of “read it again” books!

Pirate Pete has lost his ship in Pirate Pete’s Giant Adventure by Kim Kennedy, illustrated by Doug Kennedy. While Pirate Pete is wishing for a ship, a Sea Fairie hears him, and grants his wish – with the condition that he goes on a quest for the Sea Fairy Sapphire – if he returns it to the ocean, he’ll be granted a wondrous ship. This had my kids hooked immediately – a Fairy AND a Pirate AND a quest? Wow. Perfect. In his quest, Pirate Pete has to find Thunder Island and also outsmart a Giant. It’s a fun book with great rhymes in the text and vivid colors in the illustrations.

A completely different book is The Erie Canal Pirates by Eric A. Kimmel (who does all the cool Anansi the spider books) and illustrated by Andrew Glass. This is written like an old-time sea chanty, complete with old-time styled pictures as well. Also, in this case the book is about river-bound folks who spy:

“Bill McGrew and his pirate crew;
The Terror of Buffalo,
The Terror of Buffalo.”

Rather than being about pirates who have an adventure, it’s about regular boaters who try to avoid the pirates. The pirates aren’t heroes, and since that is usually the truth, this is a good book to end your pirate reading – we don’t really want the kids to run off and become pirates! Irregardless of the message behind the book, it’s a fun book with great pictures, and as a bonus shows a map of the area discussed in the story.

All four pirate books were well loved and read over and over by our kids – we hope you like them, too! The girls here are Not Happy that the books need to go back to the library!

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