The Jolly Reader

‘Put down that blasted book and finish yer watch!’ bellowed Captain Bluebeard at the young sailor seated in the prow of The Salty Scourge.

‘Blasted-book! Blasted-book!’ screeched the bird perched on the Captain’s shoulder. He rubbed his ear. The man who sold him this new parrot assured him it was trained. Ha!

‘Yes Captain,’ said Toby hiding the book inside his shirt. If the other pirates saw it, they would use it for toilet paper. He picked up the telescope and squinted through the lens.

Yikes! There was a small ship not too far away, gliding out of the mist.

‘Ship ahoy!,’ Toby shouted, ‘Starboard side. She’s a pretty one Captain!’

At last, thought the Captain. They had not plundered a ship in weeks and the crew were getting extremely bored. They had been fighting and throwing each other’s peg-legs overboard. Quite a number of the crew were now hopping about.

There was also the toilet paper situation.


As they approached the other ship, the pirates imagined what the cargo might be.

‘Gold, I hope,’ said the Captain, ‘Thar’s bills to pay.’

‘A new cutlass,’ said the second mate whose weapon was a disgrace to the pirate profession, all chipped and rusty.

‘Peg-legs,’ said one of the hopping sailors.

‘Toilet paper!’ cried someone else.

‘Toilet-paper! Toilet-paper!’ screeched the parrot.

The crew cheered while the Captain moved the parrot onto his other shoulder.


As The Salty Scourge drew alongside the smaller ship, Toby could see two crewmembers on deck. There was a old man seated on a barrel, with his head buried inside a small book. And a girl about his age, standing at the helm. Her hair whipped about her face in the wind, and she was scowling right at him.

Toby, the Captain, and any pirates with two legs, vaulted aboard.

The old man stood up, bowed, and said ‘Good morrow, and welcome aboard mine humble ship. I, William, selleth many and varied books on any subject thee would like. I pray what booketh art thee looking for?’

The Captain looked confused.

‘Just tell us what yer cargo be so we can plunder it!’

‘We are a bookshop, our cargo is books, which sea rats like you would have no use for,’ said the girl.

‘Sea-rats! Sea-rats!’ repeated the parrot and bit the Captain hard on the ear.

‘We use books,’ said the second mate, ‘for toilet paper!’

He laughed and drew his weapon.

‘Oh dear,’ said William. ‘Captain, thy bird is without manners, and sailor, thy cutlass is a disgrace.’

The Captain wiped the blood from his ear and the second mate nodded sadly.

‘Methinks I have something to help thee and all thy crew.’

William went below deck and came back up with an armful of books.

Care of the Cutlass.

How to Train Your Parrot.

Peg-Legs for Dummies.

‘Tryeth reading these,’ said William.

‘Thank ye for this useful bounty,’ said the Captain taking the books.

‘Would ye ‘ave any spare toilet paper too?’

Posted in EWG Bookshop Competition Entries.