Book review by
Dawn Friedman, Common Sense Media
Pirates Book Poster Image
Pirate thrills may be too much for some kids.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Robbing, gambling, drinking, and fighting.


True tellings of the violent lives of historical pirates, illustrations of weapons include splashes of blood underneath knives and axes.


Two pictures from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise start and end the book.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Inclusion of a recipe for "grog" (a rum drink), a mention of gambling and brothels.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this look at historical pirate life includes discussion of torture, execution, and war. Illustrations of weapons include splashes of blood underneath knives and axes. The book also includes a recipe for grog (a rum drink) and a mention of gambling and brothels.

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What's the story?

This historical account of pirate life doesn't skimp on the bloody details.

Is it any good?

Capitalizing on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, this heavily illustrated book is a fascinating investigation into pirate history. However, pirate misdeeds may scare young readers. The mixed message -- that pirates are romantic and fun but also extremely bad individuals -- starts with a document for the book's owner to sign, agreeing to participate on a pirate adventure. Parents will want to be sure kids understand that pirates aren't guys to emulate.

This is a well-researched history book that may be written over the heads of many in its target audience. Additional items slipped into envelopes or unfolding from pages are scattered throughout the book encourage repeated browsing. Parents will want to read the book themselves first, but kids who are old enough to handle the violent details will be enthralled by the lavish illustrations and interesting exploration of pirate life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the lure of pirate life and its consequences. Why are pirates romanticized? Can they think of other examples of bad guys who are celebrated in movies and books? Does knowing the truth about pirates make them more or less interesting?

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