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PIRATES by David L. Harrison


by David L. Harrison & illustrated by Dan Burr

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59078-455-6
Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Methinks the introduction doth protest too much. From the start Harrison attempts to deglamorize the piratical life with cold hard facts and sentences like, “The life of a pirate was not fun.” Says you! As Burr’s deeply realistic and heavily detailed paintings soon attest, piracy makes for exciting subject matter. Twenty poems in this collection detail every aspect of those scurvy lads’ lives, from the terrible food and flogging to the fights and captures that went with the job. In giving a bit of realism to the subject matter, the poems can get downright brutal; a pirate youngling grunts—“Unh!”—with each lash of the “Cat-O’-Nine-Tails” as he regrets his rule-breaking. Yet while Harrison's poetry scans, his poems range from free verse to erratic rhymes (as when he rhymes “endure” with “yours” in “Ship's Rules”). Child readers will come for the subject matter, and they’ll stay for the lush art. A section at the end offers additional information on what an average pirate’s life would have been like. (bibliography) (Poetry. 8-12)