Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey Book Review

Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey
Publisher: Tundra Books
Release Date: September 8, 2015

Lewis Dearborn is a lonely, anxious, and incredibly shy boy whose parents worry over him all the time. Barely able to even speak in school, Lewis is not your adventuring type of boy. That is until his family moves into his great-grandfather's decaying seaside mansion. When Lewis claims the topmost tower bedroom, nicknamed Libertalia after the legendary pirate utopia, Lewis gets more than he bargained for though. The room is already occupied by seven dead pirates whose tragic fate has left them stranded in the house for almost two centuries. However, the time is right for them to be reunited with their ship, all they need is Lewis' help. All they need to do is get to the museum on the other side of town where their ship is waiting for them. The problem is, these ghosts aren't so invisible and Lewis is still painfully shy.

Funny story. Years ago I worked as an intern at Candlewick Press. During my time there I read a lot of books. A few stuck out. Sadly, as much as I loved some of them, Candlewick for whatever reasons ended up passing on them. Yet I kept my eyes out for them, hoping that the authors would not give up on them and that eventually someone else would publish them and then everyone could experience the awesomeness that are these books. So when I was perusing NetGalley in search of a new read, my heart leapt when I stumbled across this book. "Please be the book I think you are," I said to myself as I clicked on the book. And there it was, one of the books that I read years ago, loved, and hoped so see again one day.

This book has stuck with me for many reasons. The first being the seven dead pirates, whose attic antics where goofy and yet such a great sense of pathos. Bailey does not gloss over how these pirates died. Their story is tragic. I also love the idea that these ghosts have a hard time remaining invisible when they are scared and in our modern world there is a lot to be frightened of, particularly cars. One of the scenes from the book that always stuck with me is when Lewis buys the pirates "tourist" clothes. As the pirates begin putting on their new outfits, it occurs to Lewis that this idea was not so great because these dead guys look even more ridiculous in their new get ups.

Lewis is a great character as well as his story arc, from over-protected shy boy to pirate wrangler is strong. He is so resistant to helping the pirates at first that it was almost frustrating. Just take them where they want to go, I wanted to tell Lewis, but for Lewis it was more than just walking the pirates across town. It was about overcoming his own shyness and inability to act. And although Lewis makes a friend along the way, in the end, he needs to do it himself.

I read this book seven years ago and I haven't forgotten about it. You won't either.

(Additional Note: This book features a redheaded MALE protagonist, which besides Ron Weasley is a rarity.)