Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults
Mary Christine Warren entertains her family with her new tin flute, a present from Uncle Joe for her thirteenth birthday. The happy mood of the day is deflated once a shipmate of her father arrives with news of the Gladys B.’s imminent departure from Hampton, Virginia in September 1717. When the day comes for Dan Warren to leave, Chrissie accompanies him to the dock where he bids farewell. He also promises that he’ll return, as he always does, in seven or eight months after his duty as ship’s carpenter is completed.
On the way home, Chrissie encounters three nasty strangers talking about seizing control of a ship once it reaches the Caribbean. She manages to elude them, but before she can warn her father that he might be in danger, the Gladys B. has set sail.
The next seven months pass slowly, and Chrissie keeps busy helping her uncle on his fishing boat or practicing her sewing under the housekeeper’s tutelage. In June a ships docks with two demoralized sailors aboard who had worked on her father’s ship. They went overboard to escape the pirates, who had disguised themselves as sailors and then mutinied two days before they reached Nevis. Their leader was the notorious Davy Leech, one of the men in the alley the year before. Uncle Joe tells her that all they can do is to wait, hope, and pray, but Chrissie can’t abide the talk about town that her father willing joined the pirates.
Under cover of darkness, she dons the garments of a sailor, tucks her long, braided hair under a knit cap, and hoists her sea bag with her belongings in it atop her shoulder. Adopting the mannerisms of a boy, “Chris” heads for the dock to sign aboard the Skipjack , which will soon set sail for Nevis. Once there, she’ll work out the next phase of her plan to rescue her father.
Two shipmates, Charlie Stickle and Jack Farmer, take Chrissie under their wings and teach her the ropes. Neither has any inkling of her true identity, but she prefers working with Charlie who’s a natural storyteller. Although she likes Jack and he’s thoughtful and a good teacher, she can’t seem to concentrate whenever he talks to her. She’s homesick, at first, but by the time her fourteenth birthday comes and goes, she’s become adept at being a sailor. The voyage is uneventful until the day three men are skylarking and one of them knocks Charlie into the ocean. Since her friend can’t swim, she dives in to save him. But Charlie is in such a panic that his flailing could drown her until she punches him in the face. Jack arrives just in the nick of time and together they tread water while waiting for the ship pick them up. In the aftermath of the rescue, Jack discovers Chrissie’s secret, but keeps the information to himself.
The three become fast friends, but their true adventures together begin as they near Nevis. Pirates attack. Then an officer of the Royal Navy recognizes Jack and sends a squad of men to capture him. They still have to track down Davy Leech. Only an old fisherman seems to know where the pirate captain might be, but several of his men also search for this man. And if Chrissie and her friends do track down Leech and his men, just how are they supposed to rescue her father from a hoard of bloodthirsty pirates?
Baur’s realistic portrayal of the pirates never once glamorizes either the life or their marauding. The only time he asks readers to stretch their levels of believability comes during the climax when Chrissie and Davy Leech fight. Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter is an action-packed and fast-paced swashbuckler that will keep young pirates and pirate apprentices, as well as older pirates, on the edges of their seats. Two unexpected twists occur near the end; one is like icing on the cake while the other opens the possibility of future adventures for Chrissie.
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