by Rachelle Delaney
First sentence: “‘You there!'”
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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Think of a book that’s one part Treasure Island, one part Pirates of the Caribbean, one part Peter Pan, and you’ve pretty much got an idea of the feel of this book.
Scarlet McCray is the captain of the Margaret’s Hop (the e fell off years ago), a ship haven for lost or abandoned children. Their ship is surrounded and protected with a ghost-ship legend that Scarlet and her crew of 8 to 13 year olds use to their full advantage. They pillage, they raid, they essentially have a grand time out from under the thumb of obnoxious adults.
Jem Fitzgerald, the nephew of a moderately famous botanist, is in the area with siad uncle in search of a treasure. There’s a legend that’s been floating around for years of an island that has a treasure that will bring one who finds it peace. And Jem’s uncle knows where it is. (There’s a map and everything.)
Except Jem and his uncle are kidnapped by dread pirates, who then kill Jem’s uncle. Enter Scarlet and the Lost Souls: they rescue Jem, make him a part of their crew, and go on search for the treasure. There’s growing up, adventures, revelations, and a mutiny attempt in the process of looking for the treasure.
It’s a great world that Delaney has created — safe and predictable, yet with a sense of adventure on the side; realistic, with just the right touch of whimsy. It’s a fun little book.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)