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The Salt-Stained Book (Strong Winds Trilogy) Paperback – 16 Jun 2011
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'A Swallows and Amazons for our times' - Peter Willis
'funny and exciting ... Duffers will hate it' Amanda Craig --The Times 25.6.2011
'one of the great adventure stories of 2011' Sue Magee
--The Bookbag 5.7.2011
"An intense, absorbing read ... Get on board for a very modern adventure" Gideon Spanier --Evening Standard 11.8.11
It is, in short, terrific; wonderfully written it is both tough and charming. --The Lady 23.8.2011 Reggie Nadelson
This is a story full of adventure which saves its most satisfying revelations for the end. --Action on Hearing Loss magazine Dec / Jan 2012
a multi-layered novel which sweeps readers along on an exciting adventure, but which addresses many far deeper issues --IBBY Link Autumn 2011
there are innumerable twists and a pleasing denouement --Sailing Today October 2011
For those who love boats and sea-breezes the Salt-Stained Book ... should be a first port of call --The Observer - 24.07.2011
Quite simply, it's brilliant ... It's also a rich and subtle tribute that Arthur Ransome would have loved. --Water Craft - September 2011
From the Inside Flap
'It really is a wonderful book. It's also a fantastic tribute to Arthur Ransome and I'm sure he would have loved it... After your book I'm going back to reread his' - Jan Needle (author of My Mate Shofiq and A Fine Boy for Killing)See all Product description
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Those were not the only things about the book that broke the spell. When Donny first sails, the action is rushed and an opportunity to sell sailing to the reader is missed, but the situation itself is also contrived and not thought out properly (the rescue boat could have been kept out of the way with another incident). The second time he sails, the opportunity to enjoy sailing with him is again lost as the writer rushes to get him straight into an incident instead of taking her time and giving the story a chance for some magic to find its way into it, and we never see any evidence of him getting a real chance to learn how to sail. The book also suffers from awkward transitions; the main character has dreams that provide him with knowledge he shouldn't have [edit: this is actually a feature of all three books and is not a fault, but merely a departure from realism and justified by the native American connection]; unlikely coincidences concerning his origins pile up [edit: unlikely connections between the children in the story occur through all three books]; and Donny fails to recognise something obvious (relating to the title of the book) which he then understands later on without the reader getting to enjoy seeing the point of his realisation.
It is an avalanche of little faults which really ought to have been picked up by an editor so that the author could put them right before publication. However, despite all the many things that are wrong with this book, most readers will have no difficulty in forgiving the whole lot of them because it manages to do something extremely well which will win them over regardless, provided that they don't give up on it too soon. It took me a long time to warm to the characters, but as the story goes on it is impossible not to start to like them, and towards the end it is so emotionally involving that any male reading it would do well to have an onion-peeling session planned so that he can use that as an excuse for any difficulty he has with dampness around the eyes. Griff Rhys Jones loved it, and by the end of it, so did I. Yes, it could be improved substantially, but I cannot justify giving it anything less than a five star rating.
Edit: Having now read all three books of the trilogy, I can tell you that the second volume is substantially better than this one (though not quite faultless) and that the third volume takes another leap upwards, demonstrating that the author can mix it with the best children's writers of today and should not feel in any way inferior. These books seriously deserve to be much better known. I'm hooked now for the whole series, however many more books follow this trilogy.
So I'll be acquiring volumes 2 & 3 of the STRONG WINDS trilogy. I might even look out for this Ransome chap to see what I've been missing.
Finally, a word of praise for the illustrator. Even though I was reading on a Kindle, Claudia Myatt's charming little illustrations added much to my enjoyment of the story.