The Definitive Guide to

How to Be a Pirate

Written by Isaac Fitzgerald & illustrated by Brigette Barrager
4.17 / 7.0
- Bookroo Rating
Goodreads Rating - 4.5 / 5.0
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What Does Bookroo Think of This Book

“Less about pirates and more about a grandfather and granddaughter relationship, this unpredictable book falls short of its potential.”

The story begins in the endpapers, showing a group of boys in a treehouse telling Cece she can’t be a pirate. Cece is mad—“Who were those boys to say she couldn’t be a pirate?” Remembering that her grandpa had been on a boat and has tattoos (like pirates), she goes to visit him for lessons on how to be a pirate. Her burly but kind-looking grandpa uses his illustrative tattoos to teach characteristics of a pirate: bravery, quick reactions, having fun, independence, and love. With each tattoo, Barrager pulls Cece and Grandpa into the featured, corresponding tattoo scene: like the pair flying on eagles after Grandpa shows the eagle tattoo that represents independence. After her lessons, Cece charges back to the chagrined boys, takes control of the crow’s nest, and all the mateys have a grand time playing pirate together. Timeless illustrations start in a classic tone and begin to magnify to a saturated, bright style with the first tattoo lesson. The story begins to feel a tad cheesy and unexpected with the loss of the softer color scheme, the lack of an actual story shared behind each tattoo, and the childish responses of “Wheee!” and “Yippee!” from Cece. While having a positive message of confidence, a unique take on the pirate topic, and a lovely relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter, the story falls flat after its initial charm.

What's This Book About

Publisher Summary

A sparkling and inspirational picture book about a girl who wants to be a pirate, her tattooed grandpa, and their indelible bond.

When the neighborhood boys tell CeCe that she can’t be a pirate, she goes straight to her Grandpa, who must know something about being a pirate. Why else would he have all those tattoos?

As Grandpa shares each tattoo with CeCe, they are transported to imaginative lands where they learn all the qualities a pirate should possess: A pirate must be BRAVE and QUICK, but also FUN and INDEPENDENT. And the most important thing is to believe in yourself, whether you’re a pirate or not.

This fanciful, heartwarming story from Isaac Fitzgerald, founding editor of BuzzFeed Books and host of BuzzFeed News Twitter morning show #AMtoDM, is brought to life by New York Times bestselling illustrator Brigette Barrager in a vibrant, joyful expression of what it means to be… all kinds of wonderful things, including a pirate.

What Kind of Book is How to Be a Pirate

Quotes from This Book

  • “CeCe ran, her feet swift and her heart strong.”
  • “Who were those boys to say she couldn’t be a pirate?”

What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • When CeCe wants to learn more about pirates, she goes to her grandpa because he’s been on a boat. Who do you turn to when you have questions?

  • Grandpa told CeCe some great behaviors to help her know how to be the best pirate (loving, independent, quick, and brave). What other things do you know about pirates?

Trusted Reviews & Ratings

The Goodfather
Favorite pastime? Reading with my kids. Just finished Nana Cracks the Case!
4.5 / 7.0
Mom of Boys
Mom of three little boys who love books about dragons, whangdoodles and magic.
4.0 / 7.0
B is for Bookworm
Book-loving mommy-to-be! Recently enjoyed The Hobbit, Becoming, and The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel.
4.0 / 7.0

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Who Wrote How to Be a Pirate

Isaac Fitzgerald

Isaac Fitzgerald has been a firefighter, worked on a boat, and was once given a sword by a king, thereby accomplishing three out of five of his childhood goals. After making a bunch of cool things for the internet, he now writes books and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
@IsaacFitzgerald (Twitter)
@isaac.fitzgerald (Instagram)

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Who Illustrated How to Be a Pirate

Brigette Barrager

Brigette Barrager is an award-winning artist, character designer, illustrator and writer of children’s books, best known for illustrating the best-selling Uni the Unicorn. Brigette earned a degree in Character Animation from the California Institute of the Arts, where she now teaches. She is always in search of stories that are both emotionally resonant and whimsical. Brigette lives and works in Los Angeles with her handsome husband Sean, a grumpy little dog, and two rascally gray kitties. • @missbrigette (Instagram)

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What Has Isaac Fitzgerald Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Isaac know that you want more details about How to Be a Pirate!

What Has Brigette Barrager Said About This Book

Nothing yet! 🤷 You should let Brigette know that you want more details about How to Be a Pirate! Try messaging Brigette on instagram (@missbrigette).

Isaac Fitzgerald's Book Dedication

To my favorite pirate, CeCe, and to Jon Scieszka, without whom this book would not exist.

Brigette Barrager's Book Dedication

For Rowan and Alice, from your aunt Budgie!

What Do Critics Say About This Book

  • “The ending is more than a bit optimistic, as CeCe gains admission simply by redeclaring intentions with a smidgen more chutzpah . . Reality pales (literally) in the face of the imagination, with a clever tonal shift to a brighter, more saturated palette indicating CeCe’s determination.

    While thar be precious little piracy visible in this, its feminist themes are strong.”

    Read the full review

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Book Details

Publication Date:
March 3, 2020
Text Details:
Typeset in Blueprint MT Sd
Illustration Details:
Art created with pencil, colored pencil, and ink washes composited in Photoshop
Library of Congress Number (LCCN):

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Core Score - 62%
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Depth Score - 28%
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