The “map” to a fabled hoard turns out to be at least as much of a treasure as the piles of gold and gems to which it leads in this rumbustious pirate adventure.
Hook-handed Barracuda, himself a pirate feared throughout the Spanish Main, has searched for years for the treasure of his predecessor Phineas Krane—only to find, at the bottom of a deep hole on a remote Caribbean island, a coffer containing…Krane’s memoirs. “A book? Years searching for a wretched book?” “They say there are writers who get rich that way,” offers a member of the Southern Cross’ rough-cut crew. Not just writers but readers too as it turns out, because in teaching themselves to read from the volume, the crew not only discovers the joy and power of general literacy, but also clues to where the rest of the loot lies hidden. Narrated by Sparks, an 11-year-old white foundling crewmember, the quest follows an aimless route from Maracaibo to Barbados and other ports of call. Aside from a couple of abortive scuffles, though, the plot is largely composed of silly squabbles while sailing along from point to point, and the cast is entirely composed of standard-issue pirate types, including a Chinese buccaneer (who is, of course, inscrutable) and one from Mali, who stands out in Sardà’s caricatures for his dark skin.
The theme in this Spanish-to-English import is golden; the vessel, not particularly well-founded. (glossary) (Adventure. 10-12)