Pirate's Passage

William Gilkerson
Trumpeter, Shambhala

In the tradition of Treasure Island, a wondrous adventure novel about a mysterious sea captain who teaches twelve-year-old Jim the real meaning of courage and the true and glorious history of pirates.

my 10 favourite books

Winner of the 2006 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature

Winner of the New York Library Association “Book of the Season” Award in the Young Adult category.

CBC TV animated film adaptation, produced by and starring Donald Sutherland

“A thrillingly exhilarating adventure and glorious coming-of-age story, rich in both imagination and history, in perception and truth. I couldn’t put the book down.”–Donald Sutherland

Grounded in real pirate history: Captain Johnson helps Jim with his homework by telling him the true stories of historical pirates from the Golden Age of Piracy (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), including Sir Francis Drake, Captain Kidd, and Blackbeard. Through the captain’s stories, the boy sees how the history he learned in school doesn’t tell the whole story and how it’s often difficult to judge who is a hero and who is a villain.

The book includes fifty line drawings of old-fashioned maritime subjects by the author, an internationally known painter of maritime art.

I corresponded first as a Sales Director with Bill. I then met him at his east coast home. Soon the wind filled the sail and I became his Literary Agent even though I told him I wasn’t one. But due to his talents, I managed to have FROM ROCKS TO ROCKETS, his first book, published in a smaller format by Osprey. Then the big beautiful A THOUSAND YEARS OF PIRATES published by Tundra Books. Bill had more books in him but unfortunately his health did not allow him to continue.

I traveled to Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia in October 2014 to spend time with Bill and here’s My Personal Passage.

In Bill’s last days in 2015, in Bridgewater Hospital, “he bore himself in illness as he had in life, with bravery and gallantry, and with an open enjoyment of his world and those he met. Nurses loved him, as he did them; charming and still gently swashbuckling, he complimented them on their beauty and the quality of their care for him, and when they arrived on shift and asked him how he was feeling, he would invariably say: “All the better for seeing you.” For those who’d known him, the feeling was entirely mutual.”

William Gilkerson died November 29, 2015 : Tribute by the Chronicle Project.

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