<B>A little boy's sea-faring adventure</B>What child doesn't daydream of being a pirate? Of sailing the Seven Seas, having swash-buckling adventures with the mates and searching for buried treasure? In Melinda Long's fanciful new book How I Became a Pirate, little readers get a glimpse of what it would be like to do all those things and more.
While building a sandcastle at the beach, our hero, young Jeremy Jacob, spies a pirate ship sailing into view. "I knew it was, because its flag had a skull and crossbones on it," Jeremy says. When the pirates come ashore, they notice Jeremy's keen digging abilities (his castle moat was very well made) and draft him to be part of their crew. Although the pirates are a rowdy, rough-looking bunch (they have green teeth), Jeremy has the time of his life. "Pirates don't do anything they don't want to," he observes, "except for maybe swabbing the decks."But when darkness falls and Jeremy is ready to go to sleep, he realizes that pirates really don't do things they don't want to, like tuck a little boy into bed, read him a goodnight story or comfort him during a storm. All of which makes Jeremy decide that the pirate's life isn't for him after all. Long's whimsical prose, coupled with the comical drawings of Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator David Shannon, bring this wonderful story to life. A teacher as well as an author, Long proves that she can speak pirate quite fluently: "He's a digger, he is, and a good one to boot!" And Shannon's creepy pirates reveal his intimate knowledge of the swash-buckling lifestyle. (He previously illustrated Jane Yolen's <I>The Ballad of the Pirate Queens</I>.) The story's most intriguing aspect is that this young boy isn't even slightly put off by the pirates' rough exteriors missing teeth, patched eyes, wooden legs. His bravery is sure to inspire young readers. In addition, Jeremy proves that, while living the life of a pirate may be fun, it doesn't beat having someone to tuck you in at night.