How I Became a Pirate

by Melinda Long

Other authorsDavid Shannon (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2003

Call number



HMH Books for Young Readers (2003), Edition: 1, 44 pages


Jeremy Jacob joins Braid Beard and his pirate crew and finds out about pirate language, pirate manners, and other aspects of their life.


Media reviews

Teaching Lit
Jeremy Jacob is invited by Captain Braid Beard and his crew to join their voyage to bury a treasure. Jeremy is ecstatic about joining the crew, and thinks the pirate life will be fun. On board he learns the songs, language, and manners of the pirates. Initially, he is having a great time. But soon
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Jeremy discovers all the things that pirates don’t do; including not reading bedtime stories at night, not tucking into bed, and not giving good night kisses. He realizes that the pirate life isn’t all it seems to be, and begins to rethink his decision to become a pirate.
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1 more
Publisher's Weekly
Landlubbers, take heart! Here's a tale of a lad who sets sail and finds he prefers the comforts of home. Equipped with pail and shovel, young Jeremy Jacob is happily constructing a sandcastle and moat when his day at the beach takes an unexpected turn. A ship sails in with a Jolly Roger raised on
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the mast, and the boy narrator runs to tell his parents. As with his No, David! and its sequels, Shannon plays off the straight text. "I tried to tell Mom, but she was busy slathering my baby sister with sunblock" inspires an illustration of the mother being assaulted by the infant (which also explains why she doesn't notice the boy's prolonged absence). When the crew hits the beach, they discover they're lost ("We must have taken a wrong turn at Bora Bora"), note Jeremy's skills with a shovel ("We've been needin' a digger like yourself. We've a chest of treasure to bury") and whisk the willing boy away. The buccaneers prove an agreeable lot at first, teaching him sea chanteys, pirate lingo and table manners ("Down the hatch!"; "Hand over the meat!"). But when bedtime rolls around (Shannon depicts a pillow fight in full swing), the pirates won't tuck him in ("No tucking!") or read him a story. The text's vigorous chorus-like repetitions invite aspiring maties to join in, and Long's dry, tongue-in-cheek humor serves as an ideal springboard for Shannon's gleefully madcap illustrations. The pirates are about as ragtag and dentally challenged a group of scurvy salts as ever sailed the high seas, and a clever visual surprise brings the shipboard adventure to a close. Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member conuly
So, here you are, digging on the beach, when some pirates show up and ask you to join the crew. Do you say yes? DO YOU SAY YES??? Heck, is the Pope a bear? Of COURSE you say yes!

(Wait... the Pope's not a bear, is he? Well, nevermind.)

I mean, pirates are GREAT. They eat whatever they like (of
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course, the lack of vegetables is probably why they get scurvy, you might wanna mention that), they don't brush their (green) teeth, they have no bedtime... they don't tuck you into bed at night, or hug you when you're scared, or read you bedtime stories....


Not quite as fun as it sounds, actually.

But there's a happy ending, and soccer isn't missed, and that's the important thing :)
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LibraryThing member sriches
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
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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
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LibraryThing member crashingwaves38
This was such a fun book to read! Lots of adventure with pirates, who are always fun to make believe with. In a way, it was also a good story about appreciating what you have.
LibraryThing member anita.west
How I Became a Pirate is a fun adventure story about a little boy named Jeremy Jacob and his trip to the beach. It started out as a “normal” day at the beach when suddenly the unimaginable happened. Off in the distance he saw a pirate ship and wouldn’t you know it came a shore. The captain,
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Captain Braid Beard and his crew stopped to ask Jeremy if they landed on the Spanish Main. The captain discovered that Jeremy Jacob was, “A digger and a good one to boot!” Capt. Braid Beard asked Jeremy to join the crew and off he went. Things were going great because pirates have no rules and speaking pirate is fun: pirates eat with their hands, say words like scurvy dog and landlubber and never brush their teeth. Jeremy even made an attempt to teach the crew how to play soccer. For a moment he thought he could be a pirate forever until…he discovered there is, “No Tucking,” bedtime stories or good night kisses on board a pirate ship. Jeremy helped the pirates bury their treasure and then off to soccer practice he went.

Who doesn’t like a good pirate story? This was a fun adventure to read with my son. I have not mastered speaking pirate but I am having fun trying. The pictures are great and they really help to tell the story. With the popularity of pirates right now, it was a good addition to our library.

As classroom extension ideas I would use this book in the following ways: First, I would have the students write about an adventure of their own; something they would like to experience. I think many boys dream of being pirates, baseball players etc. and would have fun writing about it. Girls also have dreams and they too, I am sure, can find many exciting things that would inspire a great story. Second, it would be fun to create scripts for this story and have the students act it out for Readers Theater. They would have fun talking pirate and making facial expressions like pirates.
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LibraryThing member rdbyars
This was a great adventure book. It is about a little boy becoming a pirate when pirates took him from the beach. What id would not want to become a pirate when they were young. They could really get into this boo. The pictures were also great.
LibraryThing member kapeoples
Second grade reading level. This book is about a young boy who wishes to be a pirate. So he goes around asking people what pirates do, how they act, things they don't do. After learning this the boy decides to act like a pirate all the time even when he shouldn't. A cute funny story with great
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LibraryThing member claseliteratura
Braid Beard's pirate invites Jeremy Jacob to join them. Jeremy Jacob learns all about being a pirate. At the begging he likes being a pirate but when he finds out that pirates don't read bedtime stories he realized that being a pirate is not so good. I can use it in my classroom to teach kids that
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every job has pros and cons.
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LibraryThing member kdemott
This is a fun boy picture book. I would recommend it for storytime, could be followed up by a pirate craft.
LibraryThing member katitefft
This book is a good example of modern fantasy because it tells the story of a little boy who joins a band of pirates for a day, only to discover that he really likes his life at home. While a young boy would never actually sail with pirates for a day, the thought of doing so is appealing to young
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children. This story is also told in first person, from the perspective of the little boy, which makes it more appropriate for the audience this author is trying to reach. The first person voice also makes this fantastic tale sound more realistic and believable.
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LibraryThing member jodyjlittle
A little boy building sand castles at the beach joins a band of pirates who come ashore. On the ship, he immediately loves the life of a pirate, no rules to follow, no manners required, and no yucky vegetables to eat at dinner. But when bedtime rolls around, he learns that pirates don't "tuck in"
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and they don't read bedtime stories and they certainly don't give good night kisses. After a storm tosses the ship around, the boy offers to help the pirates bury their treasure of gold...right in the boy's backyard.
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LibraryThing member chron002
Jeremy Jacob sees a pirates ship and heads out to sail with them. Its a very cute and adventurous book kids of all ages would like because of the great pictures. The cover is so cute as well! I enjoyed this book and think boys would really like it!
LibraryThing member h_clark
This is a very funny, imaginative book that plays off the fantasy of one young boy. The pirates are funny and behave as you would expect a classic pirate to behave. The reader gets caught up easily in the boy's adventure.
LibraryThing member christivance
Jeremy Jacob is invited to join Braid Beard and his crew for an out to sea voyage. He enjoys being a pirate until he doesn't get the love that he feels at home with his parents. No bedtime stories, no tucking in, no comforting!!?! He helps the crew with a place to bury the treasure and then decides
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that being at home is where he wants to be.
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LibraryThing member the_hag
A feel good romping adventure for young readers! I found myself unable to contain a smile while reading How I Became a Pirate and neither could my children. They liked it so well that Girl (the older of the two) read it to her brother several more times which always indicate that a book is a BIG
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hit. The text and illustrations are hilariously complimentary and simply a joy to be able to read. This is the story of one Jeremy Jacob who happens to find himself the chief digger for dread pirate Braid Beard and his scurvy crew. As the story starts we learn that pirates have bad teeth (and they are illustrated perfectly) and sing off key. Having taken a wrong turn at Bora Bora (a la bugs bunny...a very nice "in" joke for the parents), they find themselves no where near the Spanish Main and desperately need a place to bury their treasure. Jeremy is whisked away from this outing at the beach and learns the ins and outs of pirate life. The pro's (disgusting table manners encouraged and enjoyed by all, on board soccer, pillow fights every night, getting to talk like a pirate) and con's (no tucking in bed, no bedtimes story and definitely no good night kiss) lead Jeremy to conclude that perhaps pirate life is NOT for him. Young readers will, no doubt, enjoying reading about how Jeremy makes it back home for his soccer practice and where the pirates ultimately wind up burying their treasure. I give this story five's just too fun a read not to!! I think that How I Became a Pirate is best suited for 3-7 year olds, but I think it would make a fun read aloud for younger children. The text is certainly simple enough for emerging readers to be able to tackle without too much trouble.
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LibraryThing member GayWard
A boy describes how he became a pirate and burried the treasure in his backyard.
LibraryThing member dcarlill
This is a fun book filled with imagination, a boy leaving his mom and dad to join pirates.
Great for word choice.
David Shannon's illustrations are great as usual.
Personal literature choice for those enjoying pirate stories, expanding imagination, needing to visualize stories.
LibraryThing member crdutton
A little boy named Jeremy Jacob is at the beach and finds pirates. He tries to tell his family but they are all too busy and wont listen to him. He decides to go on an adventure with the pirates. He thinks the pirate life is fun and he doesnt have to use manners. He ends up playing a soccer game
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with them. He tries to go to bed after a pillow fight, but he cant sleep. He misses bedtime stories and being tucked in. A bad storm comes the next day and during it, Jeremy is forgoteen in all the chaos. He wants to escape the ship and get to soccer practice the next day. This is such a funny book with amazing illustrations.
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LibraryThing member shanlegrand
This book is about a boy name Jeremy who was at the beach with his family. While Jeremy was building a sand castle he was greeted by green teeth pirates and found himself living the pirate life. This book is good; I really enjoyed the pirates’ dialogue and the adventure that took place. This will
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be a good reading for children to read during their own personal time.
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LibraryThing member archerje
A little boy named Jeremy Jacob is at the beach and finds pirates. He tries to tell his family but they are all too busy and wont listen to him. He decides to go on an adventure with the pirates. He thinks the pirate life is fun and he doesnt have to use manners. He ends up playing a soccer game
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with them. He tries to go to bed after a pillow fight, but he cant sleep. He misses bedtime stories and being tucked in. A bad storm comes the next day and during it, Jeremy is forgoteen in all the chaos. He wants to escape the ship and get to soccer practice the next day. This is such a funny book with amazing illustrations.
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LibraryThing member hebeaton
This is a really cute book about a little boy with a vivid imagination. A day at the beach turns into a pirate expedition when he is kidnapped by pirates. The illustrations are awesome and it is very entertaining.
LibraryThing member nancyjensen
Every now and then I like a good pirate story. This is a great one, especially for the Pre K class that loves dress up and costume time. David Shannon's imaginative illustrations capture and highlight all the fun in the text, it's a rollicking adventure. But as young Jeremy Jacob learns, living
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with pirates is not best for always. Family matters, too. This would be fun to read aloud any time of year. Follow up could be dress up play.
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LibraryThing member elizabethholloway
One day, Jeremy Jacob is building sand castle when pirates land on the beach and take him with them to bury their treasure. He gets to do all the fun stuff pirates do: eat with his hands, sing pirate songs and never brush his teeth. He also learns that pirates don't tuck children in or provide
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comfort during a storm. He soon returns home and buries the pirate treasure in his backyard. This fun story allows for adventure and safety. The illustrations portray benevolent, fun-loving pirates whose expressions add humor to the book. The repetition of the captain's commands is not only funny but adds a cadence to the story that young readers in particular will enjoy. This book is appropriate for ages 3 to 8.
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LibraryThing member karafrib
Jeremy Jacob is just a normal young boy building a sand castle on a beach—until he sees a pirate ship, and then his whole life changes in Melinda Long’s How I Became a Pirate. Jeremy tries to warn his parents that there is a pirate ship approaching the shore, but his father is too preoccupied
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with setting up the beach umbrella, and his mother is wrestling with getting sun block on his little sister. So, when the pirates come to shore, note that Jeremy is a “good digger,” and ask him to join him on their search for a place to bury their treasure, Jeremy accepts. Captain Braid Beard and his crew are a friendly group of pirates, who teach Jeremy all about what it takes to be one of them. Jeremy is thrilled that no one has to say “please” or “thank you,” and that eating spinach is not required on board, since they don’t even serve it! They even let Jeremy teach them how to play soccer. But when bed-time comes, Jeremy discovers that no one tucks you in or tells you any bed time stories. The next day, when a storm blows up on the high seas, none of the pirates comfort Jeremy, and he knows that even though manners aren’t required on the pirate ship, he would much rather be home. So when the mast breaks and the pirates don’t know where to go to bury their treasure, Jeremy comes up with the perfect solution, and leads them straight to his backyard.
Long’s rhyming words and the lesson that is told through this adventure are an absolute delight, as are David Shannon’s illustrations. The pirates look grungy, but goofy at the same time. Braid Beard’s beard is actually braided, some of the pirates have “mom” tattoos, and one sports two eye-patches (neither of which he needs). There are always pirates popping up on each page, and at one point they are all on the border of the page looking at the reader, making you feel like Jeremy must have felt when he was talking to them and they were all staring down at him. The crew always repeats what Braid Beard says, making for a fun read-aloud. The conclusion of the book brings everything full-circle, as Jeremy practices soccer in his “Pirates” jersey. This high-seas adventure is best suited for grades K-4.
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LibraryThing member DarwinDragon
While Jeremy is playing on the beach, he is asked to join a band of pirates, led by Braid Beard. They have an exciting time but Jeremy comes to realize that being a pirate has some drawbacks. David Shannon's illustrations are excellent and the rhyming and repetition make this book fun to read out
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LibraryThing member dangerlibearian
I think this book is pure awesomeness! The title says it all. Love, love, love, David Shannon's illustrations.


Nebraska Golden Sower Award (Nominee — 2006)
Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — Picture Book — 2008)
Georgia Children's Book Award (Finalist — Picturebook — 2006)
Monarch Award (Nominee — 2005)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Children's Picture — 2005)






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