Adventure and derring-do abound on the Tobermory, a sailing-ship boarding school based off the coast of Scotland.
Fee (female) and Ben (male) MacTavish, white 12-year-old twins, have spent a great deal of their childhood on their marine-scientist parents’ submarine, where the story opens. The setting quickly moves to the Tobermory, a large sailing ship that is also the boarding school where Fee and Ben will start their first term. The twins are nervous—it’s hard to be the new kid in school and even harder if you don’t know sailing basics despite all those years on a submarine, since being under the water and on it are very different things. The other students, from many countries—United States, Australia, Jamaica—are, however, mostly friendly and encouraging. When a nearby ship, the Albatross, with a film crew onboard needs extras, 20 Tobermory students are chosen—Ben among them. But after the first day’s filming, Ben has a bad feeling, and it turns out there’s more to the Albatross than meets the eye. McCall Smith’s fairly simple plot is full of cheerfully delivered lessons that connect to readers directly through his occasional use of second-person narration within the overall third-person narration. McIntosh’s black-and-white illustrations have a direct charm to them that complement the uncomplicated writing style.
An accessible, unpretentious story full of timeless values and goodness. (nautical glossary) (Fiction. 7-12)