Sometimes a hearty dose of escapism is exactly what’s needed for trying times.
Fidelia Quail, a white 11-year-old in a pinafore with “a knack for inventing,” is happily assisting with her marine biologist parents’ shark research when they drown in a storm. Fidelia feels responsible—she’d built the submarine that Dr. and Dr. Quail were in when the storm struck their beloved Arborley Island. But it was the Undertow, a well-known ocean current, that was to blame. Within days, Fidelia’s life is upended when she’s kidnapped by a pirate named Merrick the Monstrous, a man with “skin so pale it was almost lavender.” The captain and his crew, a woman with “white-blond hair” called Bloody Elle and “dark-skinned” Cheapshot Charlie, believe that she can retrieve their sunken treasure. Onboard a battle-worn ship called the Jewel with only a knapsack full of sweets, Fidelia tackles her situation head-on. She tweaks another of her inventions, a filtration system she calls a “Water-Eater,” to survive the dive. This fantastical tale, set in an indeterminate time and place, is chock-full of humor and swaggering pirate adventure. There’s romance, too, as Merrick turns out to be a pirate with a heart of gold and a secret past with Fidelia’s aunt Julia.
An old-fashioned, rip-roaring adventure featuring a smart, independent girl. (Fiction. 9-13)