Like the real-life history of its author--a deep-sea diving, mountaineering, snake-loving, cycling Doctor--The Voyage of the Arctic Tern
is stuffed full of incident. It may be long, as heavy as a brick, told in poetry and feature a sweeping historical narrative that crosses the centuries, but Hugh Montgomery's debut work for children is a satisfyingly old-fashioned adventure that thrills, mystifies and captivates the reader in turns.
Told in verse that is perfectly accompanied on each page by the haunting and atmospheric illustrations of Nick Poullis, the story begins in the modern-day naval town of Plymouth. The narrator tells of a ghostly sea captain called Bruno who was destined to wander through time, trapped in existence by immortal life--his punishment for a hideous crime that he had committed in a forgotten age. Bruno had sold out for money the people of his tiny home fishing village. However, Bruno himself had been betrayed by his paymasters and each and every man, woman and child had perished because of him. Bruno's soul would be spared only when he had made amends for his three crimes. He must save a life, rescue one that has been betrayed and help some local folk by giving away a large wealth. Bruno's ship is the Arctic Tern, and to complete the first of his steps to redemption he travels to Spain in the time of Queen Elizabeth I on a mission of peace. There he has the opportunity, with his travelling colleagues, to unravel a plot to poison the Spanish King.
There are other adventures too--involving ghosts, pirates and treasure. The poetry is sometimes inconsistent, but the stories are never dull and they shine through, pure and undiminished. It's difficult to imagine a better rainy afternoon read under a blanket on the sofa. The book is sure to endure and with its sumptuous production will no doubt be a multi-seasonal gift for years to come. (Age 10 and over)--John McLay
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"* "Here's my prediction for the children's film success of 2004 or thereabouts. It will be based on a book called The Voyage of The Arctic Tern, by Hugh Montgomery... A cross between Watership Down and C. S. Lewis." Richard Brooks, The Sunday Times * "A tour de force... a beautifully illustrated, completely accessible and highly atmospheric adventure story... It shows children that poetry can be accessible, understandable and even mimic the rhythms of modern speech." The Times * "One of the most exciting children's books for some time, it's also gloriously traditional... Children will love it." The Independent * "Read [it] aloud and your class may well plead for more." Wendy Cooling, Literacy and Learning * "This rare and beautiful book belongs in every home." The Good Book Guide.