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A Few Children's Books for International Talk Like A Pirate Day

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A Few Children's Books for International Talk Like A Pirate Day

International Talk Like A Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is Saturday, September 19th. What began as a small-scale celebration of pirate loving pals, ITLAPD garnered national attention when columnist, Dave Barry endorsed John Bauer's and Mark Summers' swashbucklin' good idea in his syndicated newspaper column in 2002. Thirteen years later, the celebration continues!

If you'd like to celebrate ITLAPD, here is a list of pirate picture books and easy readers for you and your wee mutineers to enjoy!

How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon is one of my family's favorite books. And the first line is one of the best ever written - "Pirates have green teeth when they have any teeth at all." So begins the adventure of Jeremy Jacob. After encountering Braid Beard on the beach, Jeremy accepts the pirate captain's invitation to join his crew. But when Jeremy finds out that pirates don't get bedtime stories, Jeremy reconsiders his decision. Shannon's expressive illustrations perfectly compliment Long's humorous tale.

Long and Shannon's follow up, Pirate's Don't Change Diapers, is as charming as the first! When Braid Beard and his crew return to Jeremy Jacob's house, they accidentally wake his baby sister. Hi-jinks ensue as the pirates become babysitters for the wee mutineer. Perhaps even funnier than How I Became A Pirate, this sequel is a gem!

Corrine Demas and John Manders send pirates on an educational adventure in Pirates Go to School, a rollicking, rhyming, re-imagining of the school day from a pirate's perspective.

Perfect for pre-K and elementary alike, Pirates Go To School will have kids saying, "Yo, ho, ho, we're so cool. We are pirates and we love school!"

Also illustrated by John Manders is Carolyn Crimi's Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies.

Buccaneer Bunnies? How funny is that? Henry is not your typical buccaneer. Instead of performing his pirate duties, he'd rather read books. Henry's reading habit angers his father and the rest of the crew of the Salty Carrot. But when the buccaneer bunnies are shipwrecked on a deserted island, Henry's book smarts save the day. Hooray for book loving buccaneer bunnies! A pirate after me own heart!

Shiver me whiskers! Pirate mice!  Riff Raff Sails the High Cheese by Susan Schade andAnne Kennedy is an adorable early reader about a lost chunk of cheese and the mice's quest to recapture their stolen treasure. Munster, Colby, Cheddar and Brie are part of Riff Raff's crew and while parents may groan at the humor, wee mutineers will enjoy this delicious tale.

Another early reader for pirate loving kids is Deborah Underwood's Pirate Mom, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.

Pete loves pirates, but his mom thinks they are rude and messy. Then Pete and his mom go to see the Amazing Marco, and Marco hypnotizes Pete’s mom into thinking she’s a pirate! Now Pete’s mom won’t behave. Pete wants his real mom back. But can Pete find the Amazing Marco in time? Funny stuff!

Next up are two from Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Half-Pint Pete the Pirate and Pirate Princess.

Illustrated by Geraldo Valerio, Half-Pint Pete the Pirate is both an adventure tale and a love story.  When Half-Pint Pete sets out with half a map, he meets Half-Baked Belle. The two work together to find treasure and, in the process, they discover something unexpected - love for each other. Awe!

In Pirate Princess illustrated by Jill McElmurry, Bardham-Quallen overthrows gender stereotypes by introducing an atypical princess, one more interested in pirate ships than tea parties. A raucous tale of girl power! Huzzah!

Another book that challenges gender stereotypes is the late Peter Harris's The Night Pirates, illustrated by Deborah Allwright.

When a rough, tough band of girl pirates comes to steal the front of young Tom's house, Tom asks to join the crew. He is welcomed aboard without reservation and they set sail to an island where some rather lazy and silly grown-up pirates are guarding their treasure. "If you don't give me back my treasure, I'll tell my mommy!" is the funniest line in the book and one that deserves to be shouted at the top of yer lungs, matey! 

Pajama Pirates by Andrew Kramer and Leslie Lammle is a lovely bedtime book for younger children. Told in gentle rhyme, three young pirates set sail on a nighttime adventure filed with pirate ships and sword fights. After Mother Nature calls the pirates home to bed, their adventure continues...in their dreams. Lammle's illustrations are ethereal.

Also for the toddler set - two bright, fun concept books. Pirate Nap by Danna Smith and Valeria Petrone, a color book, and Twenty-six Pirates, an alphabet book from Dave Horowitz.

Last but not least - two books that prove that pirates are great at any time of the year - Kristin Kladstrup's and Matt Tavares's Gingerbread Pirates and A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas by Philip Yates and Sebastia Serra

The Gingerbread Pirates is a funny Christmas story about a gingerbread pirate, Captain Cookie, and his daring adventure on Christmas eve to rescue his crew from a mysterious cannibal named - yup, you guessed it, Santa Claus!

A Pirate' s Night Before Christmas is a pirate-y re-imagining of the Clement Moore poem, "The Night Before Christmas while A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas is a twist on the classic Christmas song.

Do you have a favorite pirate story? How are you going to celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day? Comment and win an autographed copy of Pirate's Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime! Winner chosen at random. I'll announce on 9/26.



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Abby is Pirate of the Day!

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Abby is Pirate of the Day!

Can't you almost hear this wee mutineer shouting, "Yo, ho, ho!"? I just love Abby's face paint.

Abby is a pirate after my own heart! A few months ago, I attended a birthday party and had my face painted, too.

Thanks for your entry, Becca & Abby. Abby, you can be my pirate pal any day!  Abby has been entered into the contest to win an autographed copy of Pirate's Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime.


For your chance to win, enter the Pirate of the Day contest. Join the pirate crew! Arr!


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Evan is Pirate of the Day!

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Evan is Pirate of the Day!

Look at this fine swashbuckler! It looks like he was celebrating a birthday! Would you look at that cake! A fine ship as any I've ever seen. Hope your day was great matey!

Thank you for this fantastic picture, Mary! See Evan's great smile? He's smiling because he's been entered into the contest to win an autographed copy of Pirate's Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime.


Would like to enter, too? Join the pirate crew. Details here.

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Pirates at the Fair!

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Pirates at the Fair!

Ahoy mateys!  Pirate's Lullaby releases on August 25, 2015 but you can get a sneak peek on June 28th.  I'll be reading at 4:30 p.m. at the Creative Youth Exhibit at the San Diego County Fair.  Come and walk the plank! Make a pirate map and get a (temporary) tattoo! 



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Agent's Day Talk

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Agent's Day Talk

Last weekend, I was invited to SCBWI's Agent’s Day in Orange County to share the story behind my debut picture book, PIRATE’S LULLABY: MUTINY AT BEDTIME (Doubleday, August 25, 2015), illustrated by Tim Bowers. I entitled my talk, How I Became a Pirate and Landed a Book Deal, for several reasons. Obviously, the book has a pirate theme, but the story behind my story involves....

...a whole lot of water

Flood, May 2012

Flood, May 2012

...a case of Bell’s Palsy

"Let's be pirate princesses," said my daughter.

"Let's be pirate princesses," said my daughter.

...a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work.

At the conference, I encouraged my fellow writers to embrace the pirate’s life. I wasn’t suggesting that we all head for the open seas; instead, I wanted everyone to think and act like a pirate.

"Be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate. Then always be a pirate."

"Be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate. Then always be a pirate."

You see, pirates weren’t afraid of the unknown. If they were, they never would have sailed beyond the next horizon. The work was hard, the dangers many, the rewards few - yet the men (and women) who became pirates did so because they loved the adventure. They took pleasure in the journey and were spurred on by the promise of reward.

Being a pirate, though, was hard work. The bulk of one’s day involved doing general maintenance on the ship - patching sails, splicing worn ropes, swabbing the deck – tasks that needed to be done to ensure their vessel was seaworthy.  Quarters were cramped, food was scarce and you put your life at risky daily. And for what?  The mere possibility of reward and the odds were stacked against you.

Being a writer is a lot like being a pirate. Like pirates, writers need to put aside their fear of the unknown. They must work hard at their craft, weather rejection and compete for the much treasured opportunity of having a book published. Are the odds any better for writers? No, but like all pirates know, the journey is worth the effort.

So, me hearties, Be brave. Be bold. Be yourself. But be a pirate too. Take the risk. Conquer your fear. Set out for the unknown. You never know what treasure the future might hold. And oh, the adventures you can have along the way!

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Always be yourself...

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Always be yourself...

 "Always be yourself.  Unless you can be a pirate, then be a pirate."

I’ve always been a reader, but now that I am a writer, I read in a different way.  Reading as a writer means you pay attention to different things.  You aren’t just reading for a good story.  You read with an eye for detail which leads to a deeper appreciation and understanding of craft.  Reading as a writer involves paying attention to how an author develops a character or plots such a good story that you stay up way past your bedtime to find out how it ends.

I love pictures books.  Always have, always will.  For the longest time, pictures books were the only thing I wanted to write. Lately, I’ve felt a yearning to attempt something longer, something more fully developed. 

I have the beginnings of two middle grade novels but my progress on them has stalled.  I could blame my inertia on a lack of time, but like my father always said, we all have 24 hours in a day.  If I’m really honest, what impedes me most is myself.  I find myself comparing my writing to the writing of those writers that I admire, writers that have been working on their craft for years.

I’m new to this writer’s life and I’m just beginning my journey into middle grade waters.  It’s not fair to compare.  I can’t write like them because I am not them. I can only write like myself.  I know that I have a middle grade in me.  Perhaps, what I need to do now is embrace the pirate’s life.  

You see, pirates weren’t afraid of the unknown. If they were, they never would have sailed beyond the next horizon. The work was hard, the dangers many, the rewards few - yet the men who became pirates did so because they loved the adventure. They took pleasure in the journey and were spurred on by the promise of reward.

Being a pirate, though, was hard work. The bulk of one’s day involved doing general maintenance on the ship - patching sails, splicing worn ropes, swabbing the deck – tasks that needed to be done to ensure their vessel was seaworthy.  Quarters were cramped, food was scarce and you put your life at risky daily. And for what?  The mere possibility of reward.

Being a writer is a lot like being a pirate.  Like pirates, writers need to put aside their fear of the unknown. They must work hard at their craft, weather rejection and compete for the much treasured opportunity of having a book published. Are the odds any better for writers?  No, but like all pirates know, the journey is worth the effort.

So, me hearties, join me as I throw caution to the wind.  Be brave. Be bold.  Be yourself. But be a pirate too.  Take the risk.  Conquer your fear.  Set out for the unknown.  You never know what treasure the future might hold.  And oh, the adventures you might have along the way!

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