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How I Became a Pirate

July 22, 2014

By: Carisa Kluver

The Digital Media Diet

A young boy has the fantasy of a lifetime when a pirate ship sails into view ...

How I Became a Pirate is based on the print title of the same name, published in 2003 by Melinda Long with illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winner David Shannon (for the 1998 classic, No David!). With expert word craft, timing and overall storytelling genius, Long weaves a tale about young Jeremy, a boy on a beach trip with his family. Without a word to his distracted parents, Jeremy joins a band of pirates to help them bury treasure. The adventure is wish-fulfillment at its very best for readers of all ages, as the boy teaches the pirates about soccer, learns to sail the stormy seas and even has a pirate pillow fight. It's not surprising that this title received many accolades in print, including:

  • New York Times & Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award: Children's Illustrated
  • School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

The app version of this beloved story was developed by Oceanhouse Media and is interactive in a way that enhances early reading skills. Most images (of the pirates, Jeremy, treasure and more), will name themselves aloud while the word briefly appears over the illustration. For example, touch the parrot on Braid Beard's shoulder and the word "parrot" appears and is spoken aloud by the narrator. If the word is also present in the text on that page, it highlights as spoken, providing nice auditory/visual word-reinforcement for young learners. This title is also lightly animated in a way that enhances story comprehension, with tailored and relevant touches like a shark that pops up to swallow the soccer ball in one scene. For early readers and pre-readers, the text also highlights word-for-word and has touch-to-hear text even in 'read it myself' mode.

As many treasured picture books are republished in new digital media formats, it's wonderful to see that the transition can be made in a way that adds to the storytelling without distracting young readers from the essential narrative. How I Became a Pirate is a great example of a seamless transition from print to app and a must-download for any picture book library.

Highly Recommended!

This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.

All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.


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How I Became a Pirate

July 22, 2014

By: Carisa Kluver

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Melinda Long/David Shannon

Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

Length (time):
12 - 15 Minutes

Based on non-digital book: Yes

Allows Own Narration:

Uses Motion: No

Age: 5 - 9 +

English •

Length (pages):
18 Pages


Story Synopsis - How I Became a Pirate

Join young Jeremy Jacobs in this interactive book app as he becomes a pirate on Braid Beard’s ship! Explore pictures, learn new vocabulary, and personalize the story with your own narration. Jeremy learns all about being a pirate- from buried treasure, sea chanteys, and pirate talk, but soon finds out what pirate don’t do- no tucking kids in and no bedtime stories! Maybe being a pirate isn't so great after all.

Designed for children ages 5-8
 [Source: iTunes Description]


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Orientation: Landscape

Format: Universal


Read-it-myself, Read-to-me, News on/off, Sound on/off, PageGuide, Recording, Sound Effects On/Off, Interactivity On/Off, Alerts On/Off, Links (under parental gate): Web, AppStore, Facebook, Twitter, eMail

App Release Date:


Size: 76.7 MB

Version: 2.6

Lite Version Available: No



How I Became a Pirate

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