The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Nautical Yarns- November 2007

Selected and annotated by Kate Quealy

Picture Books

Band-Campbell, Monika. Little Rat Sets Sail; illus. by Molly Bang. Harcourt, 2002 (48p.) Gr. 2-3
Little Rat is scared of the water and wants nothing to do with the sailing lessons her parents have signed her up for. This easy reader presents the story of facing your fears and learning a new skill, while remaining sympathetic to the anxiety of a reluctant learner.

Brown, Jo. Pirate Jam. Gingham Dog/McGraw Hill, 2003 (26p) 6-9 yrs
Fredbeard and Little Jim flunk out of pirate school, due to their preference to drink tea instead of grog and their tendency to get seasick. They build a house on the beach and end up happily making jam and knitting sweaters to sell. Great for a readaloud.

Funke, Cornelia. Pirate Girl; tr. From German by Chantal Wright; illus. by Kerstin Meyer. Chicken House/Scholastic, 2005 (32p) 5-7 yrs
Molly is on her way to see her grandmother when she is kidnapped by the most notorious of pirates, Captain Firebeard and is crew. Molly is no landlubber though, and proves to be the terror of the seas in her own right.

Harris, Peter. Night Pirates; illus. by Deborah Allwright, Scholastic, 2006 (32p.) 5-8 yrs
Tom was a “nice little boy, a brave little boy, and a little boy about to have an adventure.” Follow Tom as he joins up with the night pirates, defeats the “rough tough grown up” pirates, and returns un harmed to his safe bed all before morning.

Lasky, Kathryn. Pirate Bob; illus. by David Clark. Charlesbridge, 2006 (32p.) 5-8 yrs
Think piracy is all treasure and high sea adventure? Pirate Bob of the Blackbird is having his doubts about what the real cost of all that treasure is.

Long, Melinda. How I Became a Pirate; illus. by David Shannon. Harcourt, 2003 (36p.) 4-7yrs
While Jeremy Jacobs is building a sandcastle on the beach, a group of pirates shore up and enlist him to help bury their treasure. The bold illustrations and high sea adventures will make any reader want to join the crew.

McNaughton, Colin. Captain Abdul’s Little Treasure. Candelwick, 2006 (44p.) 5-8 yrs
Pirate rule 53 says you can’t throw a baby overboard unless it’s got a tail and smells fishy. So, Captian Abdul and his crew are forced to take care of the “little treasure” found on deck. The kid catches on fast though, and is soon swashbuckling and “Arrrg”ing with the best of them.

Meddaugh, Susan. Harry on the Rocks. Houghton Mifflin, 2003 (32 p.) 5-8 yrs
When Harry is shipwrecked on a deserted island, his only companion is an egg that eventually hatches into what Harry calls a “bizzard” – a lizard with wings. Just when Harry realizes his friend might indeed be a dragon, the bizzard realized Harry might indeed make a good mother.

Minters, Francis. Princess Fishtail. ; illus. by G. Brian Karas. Viking, 2002 (32p.) 6-9 yrs
This retelling of The Little Mermaid has our fair sea princess trading her tail for legs after falling for a surfer dude. When she tires of shopping and finds her self desperately missing her Mer-Daddy, the resourceful heroine finds a way to make the best of both worlds.


Cadnum, Michael. Ship of Fire. Viking, 2003 (197 p.) Gr. 5-9
Thomas Spyre, a surgeon's apprentice in London, and his master are off to serve on a voyage with the famous sea captain Sir Francis Drake. The dangers of life at sea take a toll as Thomas’ master is killed and Thomas must prove himself both a doctor and a sailor.

Cooper, Susan. Victory. McElderry, 2006 (208p.) Gr. 4-7
This time shifting adventure follows the story of Sam Robbins, a servant among HMS Victory in 1805, and Molly, an English girl in the present day struggling to deal with her own grief and loneliness.

Gilkerson, William. Pirate’s Passage. Trumpeter, 2006 (364 p.) Gr. 5-9
The arrival of Captain Charles Johnson at the Admiral Anson Inn provides Jim and his innkeeper mother both financial relief and some much needed distraction during the upcoming winter. As the Captain begins to act more and more like the pirates in the stories he so entertainingly tells, Jim begins to suspect there is more to the old mariner than meets the eye.

Hart, J.V. Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth; illus. by Brett Helquist. Laura Geringer Books, 2005 (342p.) Gr. 6-10
Before he can terrorize Peter Pan and Wendy, James Matthews, a.k.a. Captain Hook, must survive the bullying of upper classmen at Eton and his father’s neglect. Not simply a new take on an old story, this is an interesting character study of an anti-hero who is capable of both cruelty and compassion.

Kluger, Jeffery. Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats. Philomel, 2007 (374p.) Gr. 6-9
Several plot lines intertwine in this nautical yarn revolving around Nacky Patcher, a rather untalented thief, and Teedie Flinn, an unlucky orphan and Nacky's thief apprentice of sorts. When the two stumble upon a dismantled sailing ship in their town's landlocked lake they realize its construction may be the key to changing their downtrodden town's future as well as their own.

Meyer, L.A. Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber. Harcourt, 2002 (278p.) Gr. 7-10
This 2002 Bulletin Blue Ribbon winner recounts the adventures of fast talking Mary as she disguises herself as boy and joins the Royal Navy.

----. Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber. Harcourt, 2005 (518p.) Gr. 7-10
This sequel to Bloody Jack follows Mary as she escapes a finishing school in Boston to track down her true love. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding, a subsequent kidnapping and the Battle of Trafalgar make that task a bit more difficult.

Molloy, Michael. Peter Raven Under Fire. Scholastic, 2005 (512 p.) Gr. 6-9
In the style of a classic adventure tale, this epic 500+ page novel recounts Peter Raven’s first tour on his uncle’s ship and his subsequent involvement in maritime espionage.

Neale, Jonathan. Lost at Sea. Houghton, 2002 (112 p.) Gr. 4-7
After their mother’s boyfriend is washed overboard, Orrie and Jack are forced to sail a small yacht across the Atlantic.

Philbrick, Rodman. The Young Man and the Sea. Blue Sky Press, 2004 (192 p.) Gr. 5-8
Refusing to give into the despair that has consumed his father since his mother’s death, Skiff Beaman decides to save his family’s financial future by venturing the sea alone to catch a giant bluefish tuna.

Reiche, Dietlof. Ghost Ship; tr. From German by John Brownjohn. Scholastic, 2005 (313p.) Gr. 5-8
While waiting tables at her father’s seaside restaurant, twelve year old Vicki becomes fascinated by an eighteenth century figurehead hanging on the wall and its urrounding mystery.

Torrey, Michele. Voyage of Ice. Knopf, 2004 (192p.) Gr. 5-9
In 1851, Nick is just fifteen years old but ready to follow his father’s footsteps to become a whaleman. Adventure fans will be drawn to Nick’s courage and spirit as he deals with a shipwreck, frostbite, scurvy and even a bit of romance.

Tullson, Diane. Red Sea. Orca Book Publishers, 2005 (169 p.) Gr. 7-10
Fourteen year old Libby, the rebellious and sullen narrator, is forced to join her mother and stepfather on a year long sailing voyage. After they are attacked by modern day pirates and left for dead, Libby must grow up fast if she wants to survive.


Kraske, Robert. Marooned : the strange but true adventures of Alexander Selkirk, the real Robinson Crusoe; illus. by Robert Andre Parker. Clarion Books, 2005 (120p) Gr. 4-7
The inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk was abandoned on a deserted island in 1704 for mutiny. This book follows his quest for survival and his eventual rescue and return to society.

Morrison, Taylor. The Coastmappers. Houghton Mifflin, 2004 (45 p.) Gr. 4-8
Morrison details the obstacles encountered by George Davidson and his crew in their attempt to create the first survey of the Pacific coastline during the mid nineteenth century.

Myers, Walter Dean. USS Constellation: Pride of the American Navy. Holiday House, 2004 (86p.) Gr. 5-9
The history of the USS Constellation is told through a series of personal accounts, photographs, and illustrations. Readers will find a wealth of information in the glossary of nautical terms, timeline and index.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex. Putnam, 2002 (164p.) Gr. 8-12
In 1820, a sperm whale attacked the Essex, sinking it within minutes and leaving only eight survivors of the 21 man crew to tell their tale of survival. Their story was the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and while young readers may not yet be ready to tackle that classic, this serves as an excellent companion piece to Voyage of Ice.

Preston, Diana. Remember the Lusitania! Walker, 2003 (112p.) Gr. 5-8
A compelling account of the 1915 sinking of the luxury liner, this book draws from survivor interviews, government documents, and other primary sources.

Sandler, Martin. Trapped in ice : an amazing true whaling adventure. Scholastic, 2006 (168 p.) Gr. 4-8
In the fall of 1871, the crews and passengers of 32 whaleships find themselves trapped by ice floes in the Arctic. This account relates the survivors’ journey as well as details of real life within the whaling industry. Includes a list for further reading.

Walker, Sally M. Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries ofthe H.L. Hunley. Carolrhoda, 2005 (112 p.) Gr. 5-8
The Hunley mysteriously disappeared in 1864 on its first mission and remained undiscovered until 1995. This informative text, with historical illustrations and sources, details the submarine’s creation, final mission and eventual recovery.