Pirate's Perfect Pet

Written by Beth Ferry • Candlewick Press, 2016.

2016 CYBIL Award Nominee

Captain Crave could be the perfect pirate, if only he had the perfect pet. But what animal could be his true soul matey?


Making pirates

Pirates lived in olden times, right? Well, since Beth Ferry wrote a pet store into her story, I thought it would be fun to have the pirates come ashore on modern South Beach, Florida. This also helps to make them seem all the more clueless. Setting it in modern times also let me put a crew member in bunny slippers and a pink bathrobe. (They didn't have bunny slippers in the sixteenth century, right?)

Scroll down for early sketches from the book.   Click on any image to enlarge it. 

Me Perfect Pet! • Oil on illustration board. This illustration is from the end of the book, after the pirates have auditioned many other animals.

I Got Me Wooden Leg! • Oil on illustration board. This was on the checklist of things every pirate needs. Can you see where he got his peg?

Trivia: The skull on the captain's hat always reflects his mood.

Swan Dive • Oil on illustration board

Storming the Beach • Oil on illustration board. Up to this point in the book, we assume these Pirates live in the age of sailing ships.

Storming the Farm • Oil on illustration board. I had just finished illustrating Cock-A-Doodle-Doo-Bop!, so the cow and chicken were kind enough to show up here as extras.

Message in a Bottle • Oil on illustration board

Detail from The List. The first mate reads from the checklist of what every pirate captain needs. Eye Patch, Wooden Leg, Pet. 

Not a Goat • Oil on illustration board

Which Pet? • Oil on illustration board

Storming the Zoo • Oil on illustration board


Character sketches of the captain and his crew.

Early sketch showing a stubborn donkey and a bossy goose.

Originally, every animal the captain was considering for his pet stood on his shoulder. 

The feisty parrot, nearly finished except for the background.

Again, on the shoulder. It got to be too repetitive. The final art of the pig is a messy embrace.

Sketch for Swan Dive.

Sketch for Thar Be Pets!