The Skeleton Pirate


Written and Illustrated by David Lucas

Candlewick Press, 2013

Everyone had heard of the Skeleton Pirate.  The Skeleton Pirate was the Terror of the Seas.  “I’ll never be beaten!” he said.

Eek!  It’s a:  Skeleton Pirate!

It takes guts to fight a sea serpent while standing on a barrel.  And he's a skeleton, so he has no guts.

It takes guts to fight a sea serpent while standing on a barrel. And he’s a skeleton, so he has no guts.

The Skeleton Pirate proudly proclaims that he will never be beaten, even when a band of competing pirates seem to have him cornered.  They toss him overboard, he meets a mermaid in the sea and the two of them are swallowed by a whale.  He still insists that he has not been beaten and he marches up to the whale’s ear and asks to be set free.  The whale complies and the Skeleton Pirate and his mermaid friend sail a ship of gold and treasure right out of the whale’s open mouth.  The Skeleton Pirate gets on one knee and presents the mermaid with a diamond ring, declaring that he has been beaten at last.

If this story summary seems to jump around a bit, then I’ve done a good job representing the book, because that’s exactly what it does, as well.  There were a couple of times when I turned the page back, certain that I had missed part of the story because of the abrupt way it jumped time.  I am not a stickler for perfectly linear storytelling and I like books where the artwork carries part of the plot, but I didn’t feel that this book did that.  I was left with the overall feeling that I was listening to someone skimming through a story and only reading every other page.

I do love the ink and watercolor artwork from author/illustrator David Lucas, which features colorful backgrounds and characters.  (Any other Animaniacs fans out there who see Mr. Skullhead in the Skeleton Pirate?)  My favorite picture is the map of the whale that shows the path the pirate and mermaid took to get to the whale’s ear.  Mr. Lucas based this story around the proverb, ‘He who is good with a hammer thinks that everything is a nail’ because the Skeleton Pirate meets every challenge with fighting until he falls in love.  I like that take on the story, but just wasn’t a fan of the book overall.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that you can never plan for how your life experiences will change you.


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