A satisfying, well-told story of an orphan boy who escapes the clutches of his pirate abductors, proves himself courageous...

ARRGH!

A high-seas middle-grade adventure about an orphan captured by pirates who befriends a talking mouse.

In her first middle-grade novel, Campbell (Whisper, 2014, etc.) tells the tale of Christopher, a 13-year-old boy who escapes the Norphan Home for Wayward Boys and falls into the clutches of two pirates named Boots and Stinky. After he overhears their plan to steal the merchant vessel Georgiana, they force him to accompany them aboard the ship. Boots convinces the Georgiana’s Capt. Hughes and his young daughter, Lucy, that the boy is his mute nephew. Aboard the ship, Christopher also meets Leonardo Mousekins, a brown talking mouse who acts as his guide. The pirates tell Christopher that he must pretend to be mute during the voyage to the island of Tortola and say nothing of their plot or they’ll kill him. Later, a storm rocks the ship, and the admiral on board suffers a gunshot wound; Christopher fetches the ship’s surgeon in time to save him, winning the admiration of Capt. Hughes, Lucy and the crew. Eventually, Christopher tells Lucy he isn’t mute, and the girl alerts her father to the traitors on board who plan to hand over the ship to the pirate Red Blade, captain of the Dragon’s Breath. Christopher tries to bring the mutineers to justice, uncover lost treasures, retain the affection of his new friends, and make a home with a new family. Readers will discover several story elements here that seem vaguely familiar. Christopher, for example, seems to embody both the courageous John Darling from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and the good-natured Christopher Robin from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. Leo appears to be an amalgam of Feivel Mousekewitz from the 1986 film An American Tail and Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio (1940). Other elements, such as the voyage to Tortola and the discovery of buried treasure, seem to borrow inspiration from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Yet, despite these familiar notes, Campbell’s novel is a delightful symphony for children, tuned with evocative prose that conjures images of the seafaring life:  “[O]n top of a mound of molding fishnets, a fat street cat sat contentedly, cleaning his paws.”

A satisfying, well-told story of an orphan boy who escapes the clutches of his pirate abductors, proves himself courageous and finds the real treasure of family.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988478442

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Green Darner Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more