The second School Ship Tobermory installment finds the MacTavish twins cementing friendships and solving mysteries in the Caribbean.
The book opens at the beginning of a school holiday for the diverse student body of the School Ship Tobermory—a sailing ship based in Scotland that is also a boarding school. Twelve-year-old white twins Fee and Ben MacTavish are preparing to spend their holiday at home with their marine-scientist parents when they realize that three of their friends live too far away to go home. In their warmhearted fashion, the twins invite the three to their home. A dangling storyline that will no doubt be picked up in a further installment ensues. Back onboard Tobermory post-holiday, the students and their teachers set sail for the Caribbean. In Antigua, they meet Mike, a black, 13-year-old islander who has had to give up his education to help support his family after his fisherman father mysteriously disappeared two years previously. A cozy mystery instilled with wholesome values, intelligence, and action follows. While Ben and Fee figure prominently, McCall Smith, in his assured third-person narration (with the occasional second-person popping up) branches out and lets other characters drive the plot. McIntosh’s black-and-white illustrations follow the same format as the first book and are just as effective.
A comfortable, wise tale that is more than anything a story of friendship. (backmatter) (Fiction. 8-12)