We have just recently launched our bimonthly theme “Stream of Stories and Whispering Water Tales” until end of December. I tried looking for water-themed picture books in verse and I found this Pirates book by David L. Harrison and pictures by Dan Burr. While only tangentially-related to our theme, I couldn’t help but share this with you as the illustrations are gorgeous and the poems light-hearted and fun. Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Mary Lee from A Year of Reading.

This book has 20 poems in all matched by captivating, life-like, full-spread illustrations by Burr. There is an Author Note entitled “Warning! Pirates Ahead!” at the beginning of the book which aimed to demystify the entire romanticized notion of pirates. According to the Author:

Many books, movies, and plays make pirates seem like heroes. Real pirates were never heroes. They were thieves through and through and pledged loyalty only to themselves.

I thought he looks gorgeous. This is Blackbeard.

The author went on to note that there are also privateers who are pirates for hire and the fact that there are still pirates today who are still on the prowl in the South China Sea, the east coast of Somalia among other places. There is also an end note that provides interesting facts about pirates, several notes about women pirates disguised as men (I would have loved to see a poem about that though).

I’m loving that skin art.

The book, however, focused more on the pirates of old (reminded me a tad of Johnny Depp, of course. Who else? There can only be one Captain Jack Sparrow). There are poems about Signing on a Crew and what a Pirate Nest looks like – what it means to spend Another Day at Sea or what happens to a pirate who does not abide by the Ship’s Rules as seen in Cat-O’-Nine-Tails. 

My favorite though and my Poetry Offering this week is Marooned. I am sure that we must have felt this sense of entrapment and the resignation when it comes to dealing with life’s consequences, at one point in our lives.


There go me mates,

gone for good.

I’ll never leave this

speck of sand,

this hump no bigger

than a whale at sea.

I’ll never see another soul,

never sail another ship.

Break the rules,

you pay the price –

marooned for life,

however long

or short

your life may be.

Pirates. Poems by David L. Harrison and Illustrations by Dan Burr. Published by Wordsong, an Imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc. 2008. Book borrowed from the public library.

Kansas State Reading Circle List, 2009; NCTE Notable Poetry Books, 2008; VOYA’s Nonfiction Honor List, 2009; Texas Blue Bonnet Award 2010-2011 Master List; Indiana Young Hoosier Master Reading List, 2011-2012

AWB Reading Challenge Update: 118 (35)

Picture Book Challenge Update: 134 (120)

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

11 comments on “Poetry Friday: Pirates! Ahoy, Matey!

  1. As you know, Myra, having just reviewed David’s book titled Cowboys, I know this book about pirates must be terrific. I had a student study pirates as a unit several years ago & he would have loved this. Looks great, thanks for telling about the poems! I think I also want to know more about being marooned. Can you imagine?


  2. I agree. The cowboy book is gorgeous, and I’m sure the pirate book is equally fabulous. Thanks for sharing this. I think being marooned for life is more terrifying that being attacked by pirates.


  3. “Marooned” gives us a lot to ponder for sure. And yes, there is only one Jack Sparrow! *swoon* Looks like a wonderful collection, beautifully illustrated. Thanks for featuring it!


  4. As Linda said, if the book is as fun as his ‘Cowboys’ book, it’ll be a big hit!


  5. I’ve got COWBOYS in my CYBILS stack right now; you have definitely made me want to go looking for PIRATES. “Marooned” is haunting…


  6. Looks like a great book. Thanks for sharing it.


  7. There can’t ever be too many pirate books! Thanks for spotlighting this one.

    Hey, I don’t know what/if you want to do anything about this, but I did a Poetry Friday blog search and found your entire post copied and pasted here:



  8. Love the poem and illustrations!


  9. This is one of my favorite poetry picture books! The formatting isn’t great because it is a migrated post from my old blog, but I interviewed DAvid and Dan here: http://laurasalas.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/poetry-friday-an-interview-with-a-couple-of-pirate-rapscallions-2/ I’m so excited that I got their new one, Cowboys, at NCTE a couple of weeks ago. Can’t wait to read that one, too!


  10. “Marooned” does give us food for thought, doesn’t it?


  11. Hi, Myra. These illustrations are gorgeous. The Barefoot Books series also has an excellent book of pirate tales from around the world.


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