Johnny Depp's return to the big screen this summer in a swashbuckling new adventure film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, is sure to inspire in more boys and girls a fascination with life on the high seas. If you know an aspiring captain (or cockswain), point them toward John Matthews' new book, Pirates. Jam-packed with information on pirates, buccaneers, corsairs, and privateers, this beautifully produced picture book is sure to keep young fans spellbound for hours.

More than a simple recitation of people and places in the pirate world, Pirates is an interactive adventure containing more than 100 illustrations and pull-out components. A little book of Pirate Slang opens up to reveal a treasure chest of pirate lingo (every young pirate should know that a caulker is a stiff drink, while bilge refers to foolish talk). Captain Kidd's privateer license is reproduced on parchment-like paper and sealed with wax that bears a skull and crossbones stamp. A real-life treasure map of 18th-century Jamaica marks the spots where riches may still be buried, while the accompanying text describes modern efforts to recover lost booty.

The trial and execution of Captain Kidd in 1701 signaled the beginning of the end of the pirate era, but interest in pirate life remains strong more than three centuries later. A final section of the book looks at fictional portrayals of pirates, from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883) to the 2003 Disney movie that launched the current craze, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Depp's portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow had women hyperventilating and young fans dreaming of their own pirate adventures. The film became an international blockbuster, grossing more than $650 million worldwide and ensuring that Disney would produce a sequel. The second film in which Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley once again co-star with Depp debuts in theaters July 7, giving confirmed pirate fanatics and Depp fans plenty to cheer about. So, grab your sword and your grog and get ready to set sail.


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