Swashbuckling duo publishes ‘Pirate’s Log’
August 27, 2008
Are you shark bait or a spit scrubber, a peg-leg attacher or able to make it to captain? Find out in “Pirate’s Log: A Handbook for Aspiring Swashbucklers.”
An interactive book by 1995 South Tahoe High School graduate Jory John and longtime friend Avery Monsen, the log is geared to youngsters, but it has an appeal for adults as well.
“We wanted to be able to educate kids, but keep it attractive to parents also. I think we achieved that,” John said. “They can do some of the challenges together.”
The book has space to write in, some things to cut out and many different challenges all geared to inform and entertain while working toward a goal. The games range from the Stuff Hiding Challenge, which requires readers to use the built-in book light, to the challenge where they have to complete tasks using a hooked finger.
John went on to the University of Nevada, Reno, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism, and also studied at California State University, Chico, working as a cartoonist at both schools’ newspapers.
John and Monsen met in 2002 while working as camp counselors.
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“I’ve spent a lot of time working with kids and have always been writing, so it was natural to bring the two together,” John said.
“We both have a talent for thinking like a kid and decided, ‘What would we want in a book?’ ” Monsen said. “I remember growing up, I would imagine who would win in a battle royale of dinosaurs. That’s how we came up with ideas like the giant shark vs. giant squid.”
The book has a humorous list of details about each creature and asks readers to pick who would win, then write their reasons.
San Francisco-based Chronicle Books had identified no journals for 8- to 12-year-old boys.
“We wanted to fill that gap, and with the ‘Pirate’s Log,’ we did,” said Chronicle Books assistant editor Lawrence Wilson. “They came to us with their concept, and we let them run with it. They were prepared, and I have to say this was my favorite project to work on. “I’m not a parent, but I’m looking for someone to buy this book for.”
John and Monsen worked on the first draft for four months. Revisions took the summer of 2007, then, with Chronicle providing an illustrator, the book was complete.
“Gilbert Ford did an amazing job,” John said. “It was so cool to see our ideas brought to life.”
“The pirate theme was great, because we knew it would give us plenty of material. It encourages writing and following directions, and the jokes – well, they’re endless,” John said.
“They also told us they would be putting a retractable light in the spine, so we designed some of the challenges to be done at night,” Monsen added.
“We had so much fun doing this book. We wrote it for ourselves, and what we thought would be funny, and hopefully others will, too,” John said. “My favorite parts would have to be the challenges, and the removable things, like the part where they get to design their own flag and the checkoff list in the back so readers can track their progress to see if they’re a landlubber or have moved on to a squid-kisser.”
Advance sales have been strong, according to Wilson, with an October release date. The book is in the company’s fall and winter catalog.
“We’re looking forward to their next project,” Wilson said.
John said they are working on other ideas.
“But we aren’t ready to divulge that,” Monsen said.