22.6.17

Summer Treasure: A Review of A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story

by Sally Matheny

Seeking Summer Treasure
(Pixabay photo)
It’s summer. Are you afraid whatever your child learned this year will wash up on a deserted island surrounded by a sea of forgetfulness? Oh, honey, me too.

I strongly support a short vacation from schooling, because as a homeschool mom, I need one, too!

However, two months without doing anything results in two or more months of recovering forgotten information once the school year starts back.

So, what are moms to do?

To avoid a revolution, strategize a compromise that is unique and fun. A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story, may be the answer. In a coconut shell, it teaches the basic elements of a story.

Below is an excerpt from the letter to parents. Muster up your best pirate voice and read.

“Criticism be like a storm that sinks thar brain ship. But don’t be fooled—praise can be as deadly as sharpenin’ yer sword with a krakens tooth. So ye won’t be seein’ us give out no magical gold stars or blue ribbons or any o’ that thar landblubber stuff that be fillin’ a youngin’s head wit’ nonsense. We just have ‘em do thar work an’ laugh an’ dance an’ play along. Nothin’ quite as much fun as creativity, ya har!”
                                 -an excerpt from the notorious Pirate Captain Yogger LeFossa’s letter, 
                                                                      The Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story


A Pirate's Guide t' th' Grammar of Story
The Pirate’s Guide is an all-in-one creative writing curriculum for students eight years old and up.

If your child is eleven or older, he will be able to work independently through this interactive, consumable book. But think how entertaining it would be if you donned an eye patch and read aloud Captain LeFossa’s words before your child began the day’s assignment.

Woven among the instructional and activity sections is an ongoing, entertaining story about Captain LeFossa, his talking monkeys, and their quest for an unusual treasure.

This adventurous tale features your student as the main character of the story, which pulls him right into the action.

Each brief “chapter” of the story incorporates a skill or concept introduced in the instruction and activity sections that follow.

While The Pirate’s Guide is witty, it is not void of valuable weight.  

“This is a serious curriculum that teaches the fundamental building blocks—the grammar—of a story.”

This is just a sampling of areas covered:

Mindstorming              Setting                               Values
Rules                          Symbols                             Backstory  
Problems                    Characterizations                 Character Values
Mystery                      Character Contradictions      Ticking Clock
Story Engine               Plot                                    Character Functions
Character Arc              Gaps and Expectation          Transformation

Currently, my twelve-year-old son and I are working on Chapter Argh Aye Aye (Ch. 7). There are twenty-six concepts covered in the 328-pages of the soft cover book. We’re taking our time and not rushing it so we can absorb and savor. The book suggests twenty-minute sessions, which is about what we’re doing.

I would not say my reluctant writer has become an enthusiastic writer just yet. Remember, we are only in chapter seven.

However, because of the lessons’ bite-size portions and their excellent presentations, The Pirate’s Guide has produced a more attentive student at my house. His understanding of what makes a great story, as well as his writing skills, are progressing.

I asked him what he liked most about the workbook. He said,

        “I like the pirate story. It’s fun. I like that I don’t have to do a lot of    
        writing all at once. I get to make lists and answer questions about 
        writing.”

This is true. The student learns about various writing concepts over a span of several lessons before actually putting them into practice by writing a complete story. 

One of the most important things I’ve witnessed is my son developing a can-do attitude toward writing.

And that, my friend, is a summer not wasted.

Since this blog has a Christian emphasis, I inquired about the faith and worldview of the author before agreeing to review this product. 

I was assured that while the product was not written specifically for the Christian market, it was written with a Christian worldview. “Nothing in it would contradict the Bible or Christian beliefs at all.”

I know that’s as important to you as it is to me. Here's a little more about the author, Chris Hansen.

“Chris Hansen has over a decade of experience training professional filmmakers and storytellers in creativity. He was the executive director of the Piko Fellowship in Screenwriting, a long-term residency program for film and television writers. As a founding member and senior advisor to the Wedgwood Circle, he has been a creative partner among a team of award-winning artists.”

Chris and his wife homeschool their three children and speak at numerous homeschool conventions.

We plan to continue working through the Pirate's Guide this summer. Based on what we've experienced so far, I recommend this book, especially for those who struggle with writing. And for those who may jump ship if you don't choose something entertaining as well as educational.


For more information:



So, readers, what educational treasures are you seeking for your children this summer?


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in return for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


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