A Pirate's Guide to First Grade by James Preller and illustrated by Greg Ruth

A Pirate's Guide to First Grade

School is almost out, but pirates are most definitely still in, which is why it is wonderful to come across a picture book like A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade. In it, a young boy gets ready for his first day of school, accompanied by all of his imaginary pirate friends. He awakens to his scurvy dog happily licking his face, but there’s no time to wait! Ye must set sheets to the wind and sail!

The text, all in pirate talk, might be a bit distancing at first, but with a glossary in the back and the clear illustrations, I think most young first mates will be able to figure out what’s going on. A parent could even make up a game with their child, figuring out what “Gangway me hearties!” could possibly mean.


Greg Ruth’s illustrations are hilarious. The pirates that join our hero on his big day are invisible to everyone but him, drawn in black and white while everyone else is in color. They have exaggerated jolly faces and their mere presence riding on top of the school bus, sitting at storytime, or making a fellow student walk the plank (see-saw) is quite inspired. The absurdity of having adults from several centuries ago participate in children's activities is a comical bullseye.

There are no swordfights or shipwrecks to be found here, but the book ends with a hunt for buried treasure and one happy buccaneer.

Check this book out, read it over summer break, and impress your teacher when you come back next school year, just in time for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19th). Arrrr!