An intrepid lad and his smart-girl best friend repel a pair of particularly putrid pirates in this unbridled farce.
Catching wind of buried treasure near Little Snoring on Sea, twin co-captains Gruesome and Grisly McNasty steer their scabrous bark Rotten Apple shoreward—only to be met by 10-year-old Tat Trout and his classmate Hetty (the latter given to doing six impossible things before breakfast every day). Having already pulled the treasure out of a hole so deep that kangaroos come out, the young folk must not only make shift to keep it away from the pirates, but heroically scotch a further nefarious scheme to sink a boat carrying Tat’s unwitting family. Gardner festoons the narrative with references to leeches, boiled cabbage (“smelled like cats’ pee”) and other revolting foods, buckets full of slime, cautionary warnings to readers and like crowd-pleasing fare. To accompany these, Asquith supplies sight gags like pictures of a “Big Mactopus” (they “taste of brussels sprouts with custard”) and a “horned dilemma,” portraits of the characters (notably, Tat is dark-skinned) and larger cartoon scenes replete with stomach-churning details. In fact the McNasty brothers are last seen churning the stomach of a whale, though sequels already published across the pond suggest that they’ll be back.
Flashes of wit notwithstanding, the gross is shoveled in with such vigor that even readers who revel in such stuff may weary. (Adventure. 9-11)