Stink Moody has always wanted to sail on a ship to a real treasure island. So when he finds himself on vacation with his family traveling aboard a ferry boat heading for Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, he figures it will certainly do. He has brought along pirate supplies, such as a spyglass, pirate flag, a pirate rule book and the adventure story TREASURE ISLAND, just in case.
Stink is in luck, because his dream to speak with a pirate and find pirate treasure is about to come true. Meanwhile, he battles a case of seasickness (or could it be scurvy?) and then wows big sister Judy with his tremendous encyclopedic knowledge of pirateology. As it happens, there was once upon a time a real-life pirate named Christopher Moody, and Stink has studied up on him. When Judy comments that they might be related and she could have pirate blood, Stink scoffs, informing her that girls can't be pirates. Of course, Judy immediately sets her brother straight on that subject, enlightening him with information about pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, along with some juicy details about the rough and tough girl pirates of yesteryear.
Although Stink and Judy trade good-natured insults for a while, they are united as a team soon after the boat finally reaches the island...and a pirate called Scurvy Sam greets them. Scurvy Sam is quite a bit friendlier than one might expect, and he informs them that the next morning, the annual Pirate Island Treasure Hunt will begin. All they have to do is follow the linked clues, collecting 16 pieces o' eight to win the grand prize of gold coins called doubloons and a ride with Scurvy Sam on a pirate ship. Judy and Stink can hardly wait to get started on the treasure hunt, but first they have to deal with the mundane non-piratey activities their parents insist upon, such as dinner and bedtime at their inn.
As Stink and Judy start their first treasure hunting day, they are initially stymied by clue number one and distracted by another team, Tall Boy and Smart Girl, a pair destined to become the Moody siblings' competitors in the contest. However, they don't let a possible rivalry slow them down long, and they are off down several wrong paths in their search for the next clue. Working together, and with the help of Stink's pirate supplies (which come in surprisingly handy), they begin to make progress even as they observe Tall Boy and Smart Girl also keeping pace with the clues. Will Stink and Judy manage to outsmart their very intelligent arch-rivals?
This is another interesting and exciting adventure in the always enjoyable Judy Moody & Stink series, enlivened with the usual pleasing illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds. The plot is well-paced and will especially thrill pirate-loving readers. Author Megan McDonald nails the family dynamics; the camaraderie between Judy and Stink is heartwarming while remaining realistically combative and sarcastic at times. The parents support their children's quest while letting them work independently. In addition, lessons about winning and losing are subtly incorporated into the final scene. THE MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD TREASURE HUNT is perfect for solo reading or for reading out loud at story time.
--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon