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Port Side Pirates! Review by Susan Marlow

Oscar Seaworthy; illustrated by Debbie Harter
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140

This is one of the catchiest, most enjoyable books for children about pirates that I've seen. At 32 pages long, this 9.75 by 10-inch, hardback picture book is a delight from the very first page. The draw? A sing-along CD that uses rhyme and repetition, complete with a "pirate-sounding" voice and sound effects. Another fun addition to this creative story is a link on the Barefoot Books website to your own Port Side Pirates Treasure Map to color.

The simple storyline of a boy who joins a fun-loving band of pirates for an adventure at sea is enhanced by the two-page, brightly colored spread of a pirate galleon near the back of the book. Each part of a sailing ship is numbered and identified in bold, fun script. The next few pages share real facts about pirate ships, pirates around the world, famous pirates, and the musical score for the story-song.

Port Side Pirates is great fun for ages one to nine and beyond (I loved it!). I gave this book to my five grandchildren to "try out." My daughter told me they listened to it five times in a row and didn't want to give the book back. I listened with them another day and watched the one-year-old bounce to this catchy tune, while the three- and five-year-olds sang along with the CD. The seven- and nine-year-olds were glued to the pages. A page started to tear because so many little hands wanted to enjoy the book at the same time.

Although the truth about pirates is not the merry life this book portrays, it's a fact that kids love pirates. Barefoot Books has done a fine job with a subject dear to children's innocent hearts. They can learn the hard truth later on that pirates were nothing more than glorified criminals. For now, enjoy Port Side Pirates with them as they sing, "We sang this song the whole day long, the day I went to sea. Oh, the pirate's life is full of fun. The pirate's life for me!"

Product review by Susan K. Marlow, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2008