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"[A] compelling, tautly rigged tale."
- "Kirkus Reviews," starred review
"[A] compelling, tautly rigged tale."- "Kirkus Reviews," starred review
"A vivid historical tale within the framework of a compelling modern story."- "Booklist," starred review --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Both swashbuckling and moving, no child should miss this book! --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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In the course of the book the reader is transported back to the Battle of Trafalgar. An enjoyable read with plenty of good historical detail and a mystery to resolve itself.
I am so glad that Susan Cooper is writing books again. I think I have read everything she has written, and every book is enjoyable and of a high standard. This book is no exception, and this is as ever a good young adult book.
But, in fact, when reading into this period of history, I would rater Powder Monkey by Paul Dowswell a little more highly. There is even more historical detail in that book, and the story was every bit as good. If you want to read just one book about life aboard a ship in Nelson's day, read "Powder Monkey". But if you want to read a very good story, this one is worth it too.
The tale alternates between the story of young Molly, who is homesick when she goes to live in America, and that of Sam, a young boy press-ganged into service on HMS Victory, in time for the battle of Trafalgar.
Molly discovers, in the cover of an old book about Nelson, a piece of the flag that draped his coffin and she senses an echo from the past. However, when she returns home to England, she visits the Victory, and there, for four hours, the two centuries that separate her and Sam disappear and she is carried into the thick of the battle.
This seems very plainly told yet there is great craftsmanship in the telling. It is, at times, very moving, yet it conveys much information about life on board ships of the British Navy, all those years ago. A masterly piece of storytelling.
Story number 1 is about Molly, who must be about 11 and has moved to America because of some clichéd family problems. She is drawn to the history of the Victory and Lord Nelson after a kindly bookshop owner lets her have a book all about it for a song when she can't cough up the necessary $25. Her syrupy-sweet mother is always on hand to comfort her whenever she thrown a tantrum and eventually they travel back to England where she yet again freaks out, the reasons for which I will keep to myself lest it spoil the ending. 1 star awarded for this storyline of the book.
More engaging as a person and certainly more convincing as a piece of narrative is the sub-tale of Sam Robbins who is chain-ganged into working on the Victory. He toughens up quickly and spends his time pondering about the battle that is to come as well as dealing with pigs and rats. 2 stars or even 3 for Sam's story.
This title is probably best suited to undemanding ten and 11-year-olds rather than anyone who expects to be treated intelligently. Unfortunately, it takes a while to get used to the two plots going on and it is too tempting to reach for something else - even the author's King of Shadows - as this is hard work keeping up with events and characters' names. The most unpalatable part is the unattractive heroine of the piece who needs to get a grip and stop indulging in self-pity.
As for Molly being a spoilt brat, perhaps "A reader" has never been severely homesick - in which case, they're very, very lucky - but Molly is young and has been uprooted from the home she loved and the only life she remembers, to go and live in a strange country. They may speak English over in the US, but it is still a foreign country, with different customs and habits from Britain.
Susan Cooper has done an excellent job of portraying the dizzying confusion of being uprooted from one's home, something that both Sam and Molly feel, and being transported to an entirely different lifestyle. The connections between the two children are established slowly and surely, and work very effectively. Both characters are drawn sympathetically, and both their stories are told beautifully. This is a fantastic book that shows Cooper's mastery of historical detail and creates both Molly's and Sam's worlds delightfully. I highly recommend this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
There seem to be two stories woven together in this book.
One of the stories is set in the 17th Century; it is about a boy...Read more