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Adventure on Board the HMS Defender

by Jeff Weigel & illustrated by Jeff Weigel

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-399-25089-7
Publisher: Putnam

A fast-paced and fact-laced tale framed in graphic panels puts a young orphan aboard a British frigate for a spot of blockade duty—climaxed by a brisk exchange with a French three-decker and the fiery destruction of an enemy shipyard. Rated “Boy, Third Class,”12-year-old Jack reports for duty with his lubberly head filled with heroic visions. Months of hard chores and gun drills later, he’s ready to measure up when the Defender sails into an ambush engineered by a turncoat crewmember. Though Weigel isn’t much for natural-sounding dialogue (“The Admiralty’s hoping to box up the Frenchies in their ports so they can’t mount an invasion of England,” explains an avuncular bosun) he fills the side margins on each page of his action-packed, realistically detailed cartoon scenes with pithy comments on naval argot and discipline, historical background, warfare, weapons and nautical lore. Though it may be a stretch for the episode’s likely audience to move on, as the author recommends at the end, to C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian, Jack’s adventures will leave readers in the proper tar-and-gunpowder frame of mind. (resource list) (Graphic fiction. 9-11)