Scurvy Awareness: Pirate Books

Posted by Sara Grochowski

A mention of the word ‘scurvy’ often brings to mind pirates, but you might not be aware that scurvy is a very real and still relevant issue. Scurvy is a condition caused by a lack of vitamin C, which causes tiredness, muscle weakness, rashes, and bleeding gums. Pirates often suffered from scurvy due to the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables while sailing the seven seas. May 2nd is Scurvy Awareness Day, so to do our part, we’re highlighting 5 swashbuckling stories about pirates! The Limestrong website also recommends making your cat a fruit helmet and sharing via social media, which we also fully endorse. Yes, there are pictures for inspiration!


Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas by Laura Sook Duncombe

Just out from Chicago Review Press, this first-ever Seven Seas history of the world’s female buccaneers features women who sailed alongside and sometimes commanded men. Not only does Pirate Women chronicle women like ancient Norse princess Alfhild; Sayyida al-Hurra of Barbary corsairs; Grace O’Malley, who terrorized shipping operations around the British Isles during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I; to Cheng I Sao, who commanded a fleet of four hundred ships off China in the early nineteenth century, the book also explores the quest for freedom that motivated these women and the reasons they’ve largely been left out of history.


The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

In this duology from Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ananna, a young pirate, is on the run, avoiding an arranged marriage that would, more or less, make her property of her husband and effectively dash all her hopes and dreams of captaining her own ship and exploring the world on her own terms. Her husband-to-be's family doesn't take kindly to her escape and dispatches an assassin punish her defiance. Things take an unexpected turn, however, when Ananna saves the assassin, Naji, waking an impossible curse that ties the two together, making them unlikely, and unhappy, allies. The novel follows the two characters as they traverse deserts, oceans, and islands in search of people that might be able to help them break the impossible curse. Along the way, the characters discover that neither is quite what they appear at first glance.


Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

In this tale from Eli Brown, ruthless pirate captain Mad Hannah Mabbot kidnaps Owen Wedgwood, known as the Caesar of Sauces. With his life spared only as long as he successfully serves Mabbot a superb meal every Sunday, the chef must spin culinary magic to turn the meager supplies onboard into a delicious meal. Mabbot is driven by her hunt for the infamous King of Thieves, but, beneath her fearsome exterior, possesses a softness that Wedgwood slowly comes to see. Colorful crew members, like Mr. Apples, a fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, marital arts masters; and Joshua, a mute cabin boy, round out a fascinating adventure.


Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

In this Peter Pan retelling centered on Captain Hook, readers meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a smart Restoration-era privateer “cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a war that never ends.” When Stella Parrish finds herself transported to Neverland, against Pan’s rules, she meets Hook and finds much more than the stereotypical villain. Stella’s extensive knowledge of fairy tales aid Hook in his quest for redemption and release against Pan and his bloodthirsty boys.


The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt and Ross Collins

Written for a middle grade audience, this first book in the Mabel Jones series will charm readers of all ages. Mabel Jones has no idea that a quick nose-picking (and, uh, taste) would cause a portal to open to a world run by pirates. Pirates who kidnap Mabel, forcing her to serve aboard The Feroshus Maggot. Mabel’s journey will take her across the Greasy Pole of Certain Death, into the belly of a whale, and into the depths of a crypt, all while in her pjs. Mabbitt’s rip-roaring tale is perfectly paired with illustrations from Ross Collins. Readers will finish book one and immediately reach for books two and three.

Sara Grochowski

Sara Grochowski is an unapologetic book pusher, whether she’s in the library stacks or bookstore. She also writes for Publisher’s Weekly and speaks at conferences about great books and best practices for booksellers and librarians. You can find her on Twitter @thehidingspot and her blog, The Hiding Spot.