The high seas are full of fleas in Genteman’s debut children’s novel.
Romney is a quiet British sheep who is constantly getting picked on by bullies at school and pestered by his little sister, Babette. Although he’s weak and bookish by nature, he dreams of becoming a sailor. His wish is granted when he finds a mysterious gold key and an empty chest, and he and Babette accidentally become stowaways on a pirate ship. Fortunately, the motley crew of the Grey Gulls doesn’t do much pillaging or plundering. They’re more interested in finding the hidden island of Atlantis, where their captain, Argyle the ram, is convinced his long-lost brother is hiding. Soon Romney finds himself caught up in the adventure of his dreams—fighting evil buccaneers, finding love, and protecting his little sister. He even gets an eye patch. Of course, when his sister gets kidnapped (again) after a brush with less friendly pirates, he begins to think his new life might be a bit too exciting. The animals in this story don’t walk on all fours or eat grass. They fight with swords, wear clothes, steer sailing ships while making speeches about honor and courage, and occasionally communicate in terrible Spanish. The author seems to have made them animals instead of humans for no other reason than the endless opportunities for sheep puns. But the cast is large and colorful, and there’s more than enough action to keep a 12-year-old reader engaged. The tale, however, needs an editor. Serious spelling and grammar errors abound, and at times, the prose is barely intelligible: “Mitten’s saw the Coral on the horizon and thought that this would be a prim chance to give this wanted rouge a show of force.” But young readers able to see through the slew of mistakes will find a fun fantasy underneath.
A swashbuckling nautical adventure that often sails smoothly in spite of its author’s treacherous grip on the English language.