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A Pirate’s Hunt for Gold…fish

pirate's treasure map

Pirates will risk life and limb to get their hands (or hooks) on buried treasure. They will cross stormy seas, face starvation and battle adversaries all in hopes of finding glittering gold. Reading about their adventures is thrilling, and authors have penned stories about pirates for centuries. Classics such as Gulliver’s Travels (published in 1726) and Treasure Island (published in 1883) have inspired countless book, film, television and video game adaptations.

Now, young adult authors are putting their own spin on the genre and abandoning the European canon to include tales of piracy from other cultures (ex. A Clash of Steel and Skin of the Sea) and LGBTQIA+ characters (ex. In Deeper Waters). Authors are bringing a breath of fresh air into the sails whilst preserving the same themes of adventure, revenge, superstition and democracy. 

Keeping with the Oceans of Possibilities theme for summer reading, the library is hosting a fun event for teens called “Goldfish Taste Test.” Staff have gathered all the Goldfish cracker flavors they could find – ranging from pizza to pretzel. Teens guess the flavor and rank their favorites while watching Pirates of the Caribbean. This event will be held on Wednesday, July 20, from 3:00 – 5:30 PM and is for ages 13 – 18.

In the meantime, check out this selection of young adult pirate books. Books are arranged chronologically by publication date. Click on the book title to place a hold through the MFPL catalog.

The Sea Knows My Name  book cover

The Sea Knows My Name

by Laura Brooke Robson

Scholarly and soft-spoken, seventeen-year-old Thea escapes from her mother’s pirate ship and into the arms of a charming sailor whose betrayal forces Thea to reconsider her mother’s lessons about surviving in a man’s world where she must chart her own course. A perceptive, kaleidoscopic, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful meditation on what it means to survive.

A Clash of Steel book cover

A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix

by C.B. Lee

1826. The legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Xiang has grown up with stories about the Dragon Fleet and its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Dragon Queen. Desperate to set sail and explore, Xiang mainly wishes to find her father, a crew member of the Dragon Fleet. Her only memento of him is a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry. The pendant’s true nature is revealed when a girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. Convinced the map could lead to a fabled treasure, Xiang joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the sea– and those who sail it– are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

In Deeper Waters book cover

In Deeper Waters

by F.T. Lukens

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel. Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing he could not have survived in the open ocean. That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war.

Skin of the Seat book cover

Skin of the Sea

by Natasha Bowen

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata, a mermaid collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable – she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods. To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems… A beautiful retelling of The Little Mermaid that incorporates African mythology.

Tides of Mutiny book cover

Tides of Mutiny

by Rebecca Rode

In a world where female sailors are executed, Lane’s dream of being a ship’s captain seems impossible. Sea life is all she knows, and Lane has to hide as a captain’s boy to avoid being killed. Then an old pirate enemy comes after her father, and she begins hearing rumors that her father was once a pirate as well. Then a mysterious prince shows up, and Lane finds her very survival tied to a boy who could destroy everything. Now Lane must either protect herself or find a way to live her dream, or risk everything for a world where her very existence is a death sentence. Maybe there’s a third option. After all, she has never played by the rules before. Why start now?

Devil's Ballast book cover

Devil’s Ballast

by Meg Caddy

Anne Bonny was eighteen when she ran away from her violent husband, James, into the arms of pirate captain Calico Jack Rackham. Now she’s ensconced aboard Jack’s ship Ranger, passing as a cabin boy and playing her ruthless part in a crew that is raining down mayhem and murder on the ships of the Caribbean. But James Bonny is willing to pay to get his ‘property’ back. And pirate-hunter Captain Barnet is happy to take his money. The Ranger’s a fast ship- Anne might just be able to outrun Barnet. But can she outrun the consequences of her relationship with Calico Jack?

Seafire book cover


by Natalie C. Parker

After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, who have lost their families and homes because of Aric and his men. The crew has one mission: stay alive, and take down Aric’s armed and armored fleet.

Daughter of the Pirate King book cover

Daughter of the Pirate King

by Tricia Levenseller

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue book cover

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague was bred to be a gentleman. His passions for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men, have earned the disapproval of his father. His quest for pleasures and vices have led to one last hedonistic hurrah as Monty, his best friend and crush Percy, and Monty’s sister Felicity begin a Grand Tour of Europe. When a reckless decision turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt involving pirates and highwaymen, it calls into question everything Monty knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.