Little Buc's Buccaneer Book Club: How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long & David Shannon

Little Buc

Ahoy, Followers –

Welcome to the seventh meeting of Little Buc’s Buccaneer Book Club

Students of all ages are superfans of my Buccaneer Book Club!  So far, we’ve read:

Sammy The Seasick Pirate by Janelle Spinger-Willms
Shiver Me Letter: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel
Ten Little Pirates by Mike Brownlow & Simon Rickerty
The Grumpy Pirate
by Corine Dema and Artemis Roehrig
The Treasure Of Pirate Frank
by Mal Peet
Pirates Love Underpants by Corine Dema and Artemis Roehrig

If you missed any of these books, just click on Little Buc’s Adventures to the left.  Scroll down until you see posts with the title, Little Buc’s Buccaneer Book Club.

Today, I am excited to share, How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long & David Shannon

As I usually do, I headed up to the Bridge to begin my new book.  I was about to hop up into Captain Campbell’s chair when I saw a pair of legs and discovered that it was already occupied by…Captain Campbell!  Instead of joining him, I quietly read below the sound-powered phone. 

Little Buc with book

Then I headed to the Quarterdeck and shared How I Became A Pirate with a few cadets on watch.

cadet with book

My last stop was the Mess Deck where everyone was eager to read my latest book.

cadet with book

The cadets and I talked about sea shanties, scurvy, tricorn hats, and a Jolly Roger.

sea shanty: 
How I Became A Pirate: The pirates taught Jeremy Jacob a sea shanty, a traditional work song that was sung on merchant sailing vessels.

The video below is an example of a sea shanty. 

Since it is a work song, pretend you are swabbing the deck or hoisting a sail as you listen to the sea shanty.

Aboard The TS Kennedy: You won’t find cadets singing shanties while they are working on deck, and positively never on the Bridge.  You will, however, hear music blaring in the Engine Lab and in the gymnasium.  Cadets use wireless speakers to play downloaded music when they are relaxing on deck during their leisure time.  One cadet brought along his guitar.

cadet with a guitar

How I Became A Pirate: The pirates taught Jeremy Jacob to say, “scurvy dog,” something that I would never say.  It’s not nice to call people names – or to make light of a serious illness.  Scurvy is a disease that occurs because of a lack of vitamin C.  Between the 16th and 18th century, thousand of sailors who spent extended time at sea were stricken with this fatal illness.  Sometimes it would wipe out the entire crew. This poster shows the symptoms.

scurvy symptoms poster

Aboard The TS Kennedy: There is no danger of our cadets coming down with scurvy.  According to Chartwells Dining Director Bob Cobb, 5,000 oranges were loaded onto the ship for Sea Term 2023.  He also brought 11,000 potatoes and 800 tomatoes.  All three are great sources of vitamin C.

fruit in mess deck
Little Buc by juice dispensor

tricorn hat:
How I Became A Pirate: Look closely as How I Became A Pirate is read.  Watch for pirates wearing tricorn hats. They have a wide brim pressed up to the cap on all sides, forming a triangle. The stylish pirates wore their tricorns with the pointy end at the back of the heads. Although pirates dressed to impress when they were in port, their tricorns had practical purpose too.  Not only did the tricorns protect the pirate from the harsh rays of the sun, they also came in handy during rainy weather.  The turned-up parts of the hat acted like a gutter.  The rain was directed away from the pirate’s face and sent over his shoulders.

page from book, arrow points to pirate's hat

Aboard The TS Kennedy: When cadets aboard the TS Kennedy relax on deck or head to the gym, they are allowed to wear “Buc gear.”  That name has nothing to do with me, although I wish that it did.  Buc gear is anything that has either the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s “M” logo on it or an image of the Academy's official mascot, Buc. (Not to be confused with yours truly, Little Buc).  Buc wears a tricorn hat.  Check out his image below!

Buc Mascot

Jolly Roger:
How I Became A Pirate: When the pirates left, they gave Jeremy James a black flag called a Jolly Roger.  It had skull and crossbones on it.  Historians believe the flag's name may come from the French phrase "joli rouge" which means "pretty red". The first pirate flags were bright red rather than black and white.  The pirates hoped to frighten ship captains and show them that no mercy would be given after the pirates boarded their ship. 

red jolly roger flag

Aboard The TS Kennedy: You won’t see a flag with skull and crossbones on it flying aboard the TS Kennedy, but you will see a red X on one of the four signal flags that spell out the ship’s call letters: K-L-M-U.  The flag that represents the letter U is made up of a white field with a red X.

This weekend while in the port of Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades, the TS Kennedy will fly the state flag of Florida.  That flag also features two diagonal red bars that  form an X.  Although pirates flew the Jolly Roger to scare captains, the TS Kennedy will fly the flag of Florida as a sign of friendship, respect, and appreciation.    

signal flags
florida flags in cubbie on Bridge
florida state flag

Okay, are you ready to hear How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long & David Shannon?  Let’s go!

How did you like it?

If you do any activities related to How I Became A Pirate, please share photos and work samples with me.  The email may be sent to me at

Don’t miss the next meeting of Little Buc’s Buccaneer Book Club on Thursday, February 5th.  We’ll be reading There Was An Old Pirate That Swallowed A Map by Lucille Colandro. 

Your favorite book-loving pirate,


Little Buc