Today's average 10-year-old is a lot different from you or me at that age; heck, they're different from when my own kids were 10, and that hasn't been too long ago. Children today are worldly wise and verbally sophisticated, but one thing remains unchanged: they're still kids. Tom Lichtenheld understands this. He respects his audience, but maintains a sense of humor just the same. In his book Everything I Know About Pirates, he has taken a subject near and dear to kids pirates and created something fresh, entertaining, and full of whimsy. Well-written and illustrated, this book is full of slick, witty humor that won't go over kids' heads.

Pirates is chock full of facts, jokes, smirky little asides, craziness, and Lichtenheld freely admits stuff he just made up. You gotta love it. So, in addition to getting the usual pirate data, you find out such things as the fact that the swashbucklers are basically clumsy (why else would they have hooks for hands, peg-legs and eye patches? Makes sense to me!). Sometimes Lichtenheld's explanations make so much sense, I wonder if it could be true, like reasoning that pirate boots are always doubled over because they're usually stolen and don't fit right.

Everything I Know About Pirates (ages 4-8) is a book that kids should read themselves, because you'll probably annoy them if you try to read it aloud and stop every couple of lines to compose yourself. Instead, shake your grownup head seriously and say that book's full of nonsense. You can always sneak a peek after the kids are in bed asleep; trust me, your youngsters will appreciate it all the more.

James Neal Webb buckles his swash in Nashville.

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