Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young AdultsThe Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom
Late one night pirates ransack the museum in Dull-on-Sea without leaving a single fingerprint behind. Chief Inspector Klewless admits he and his men have no clues as to the pirates’ identities, but this is the second such theft and both occur under a full moon. Fearing they’ll be the next victims, the townspeople of Dull-on-Sea immediately lock up their valuables.
Matilda, better known as Tilly, contacts her best friend, Jim Lad Jolley-Roger, who just might know who the thieves are since he and his family are pirates too. While waiting for them to arrive, she helps an old lady with a cupboard full of keys. One particular key catches Tilly’s attention because it’s rusty and big and has a skeleton’s head at one end.
Once the Jolley-Rogers’ pirate galleon Blackhole arrives, Jim Lad invites Tilly aboard to hear the legend of Cap’n Twirlybeard. This fiercesome captain and his pirates had a locked chest of treasure, but the key was lost after the pirates were killed and the navy ship carrying it sank off Dull-on-Sea. Now, when the full moon shines, the pirates search for the key to unlock their chest. Only then will their souls be saved.
Tilly thinks she knows where to find the key, and once she and Jim Lad acquire it, Grandpa Rogers devises a daring plan to recover the stolen artifacts and put an end to Twirlybeard’s nightly thefts. But it’s never a good idea to trust pirates to do the right thing, and Cap’n Twirlybeard has no intention of giving up his moonlight marauding. Before long Tilly and Jim Lad find themselves in mortal danger, and the only way for the good guys to win is to think outside the box.
This chapter book is the first tale in a new series for young pirate apprentices. The story combines a mixture of modern technology with old-fashioned pirate lore. The black-and-white illustrations perfectly set the mood and the inclusion of “The Jolley-Rogers’ Guide to Pirate-Speak” helps readers understand unfamiliar vocabulary. Nugget, Jim Lad’s little sister, walks a bit of a tight rope between good and bad pirate, but Tilly and Jim Lad aptly demonstrate how wits and ingenuity are sometimes better weapons than swords and threats. This tale is great fun with tons of piratitude, one that even adults will enjoy.
Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar
The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom
By Jonny Duddle
Templar Books, 2016, ISBN 978-0-7636-8909-4, US $6.99 / CAN $9.00
Dabberlocks, Maerl, and Pipweed are three witches who collect pirate ships, hats, and flags. But finding such items is difficult these days, since few pirates visit Dull-on-Sea now. So they weave a spell to bring pirates on the double. Unfortunately, the first to arrive are the Jolley-Rogers, who just want a fun day at the beach. The first hint of trouble arrives when Mr. Jolley-Rogers and Nugget use a metal detector to hunt for buried treasure. Jim Lad and his mother are surfing the waves when they hear Bones barking from the shore. The dog leads them to a cave, but Jim Lad is wary enough to first write a note to his friend Matilda. After affixing the message to Bones’ collar, Jim Lad tells the dog to deliver it to Tilly if he fails to emerge from the cave.Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar
When Bones arrives at her house, Tilly sets aside her painting and goes out to the cave at Hag’s Head. Although it’s dark inside, she sees a faint yellow glow and follows it until she enters an underground room filled with gold and jewels. Standing frozen in front of this treasure are the Jolley-Rogers. She manages to drag Jim outside where the spell is broken. Knowing his parents are too heavy and that he can’t go back inside without some special tools, Jim Lad returns to the ship to get what he needs. Tilly and Bones return to the treasure room to rescue Nugget only to be discovered by the witches, who take Tilly and Bones up to their house at the top of the cliff. Tilly devises an escape plan, but witches with piratical cravings aren’t to be trusted.
While there’s less action in this second book in The Jolley-Rogers series, ingenuity and common sense play key roles in thwarting the witches, who aren’t completely evil. Technology and fantasy combined with great black-and-white pictures spin a web that will captivate young pirate apprentices and, perhaps, their parents.
The Pirates of Scurvy Sands
By Jonny Duddle
Templar, 2018, paperback ISBN 978-1-78370-409-5, £6.99 / US $9.14
Hardback ISBN 978-1-78370-408-8, £11.99 / US $16.99
Mad Jack McMuddle was a pirate who was always lost. A long time ago, he buried his treasure on the island of Scurvy Sands. The place is a resort now, specifically for pirates. There are oodles of arcades, swimming, pirate fun, and treasure hunting, but no one has ever located Mad Jack’s treasure.
Dull-on-Sea is a bleak place in winter, but when summer arrives, it’s quite lively. While fishing off a pier one day, Matilda hooks a bottle with a message from her friend, Jim Lad Jolley-Rogers. His family is off to Scurvy Sands for fun and relaxation. Would she like to come too?
Most parents would say no, since pirates are n’er-do-wells, but the Jolley-Rogers are good pirates, so off Matilda goes on a grand adventure. Capt’n Ollie Day welcomes them with open arms, but it isn’t long before the other vacationers begin questioning whether Matilda should be allowed to stay. After all, she’s not a pirate. She’ll never pass the Pirate Test. But Matilda and Jim Lad pay no heed to such whispers. They’re too busy studying Mad Jack’s portrait and map, because they are determined to find his lost treasure!
This sequel to The Pirates Next Door is grand fun. The illustrations are colorful and each pirate has his/her own personality and expressive face. The story is a wonderful take on “Never judge a book by its cover.” Whether read aloud or silently, by oneself or with someone else, the adventure immediately draws young pirates into the tale. It can easily be transformed into a play so everyone can participate, or words that are capitalized can be shouted to add a dramatic flair to the telling. There’s even a bit a treasure included, for the artist has included a four-page foldout spread. There are also two diagrams depicting the Scurvy Sands resort and they are not the same. Are you savvy enough to spot the difference?
Once again trouble sails into Dull-on-Sea late at night. While the harbormaster dozes, thousands of rats infest the town. The next morning, they perch on window sills. They munch on crumbs. They infest the laundry. Everywhere the residents look, rats are to be found.
The Jolley-Rogers and the Pirate Piper
By Jonny Duddle
Templar Books, 2020, ISBN 978-1-5362-1236-5, US $7.99 / CAN $10.99
During this infestation, the Jolley-Rogers are at sea. Grandpa has given Nugget a gift she has long yearned to own – a fiddle. From dawn to dusk she practices, while everyone else finds something else to do. Jim Lad dons headphones to listen to loud music. Dad repairs the ship, while Mom relaxes in the crow’s nest. Which is where she hears a news report about Dull-on-Sea’s problem. So off they sail to investigate.
Matilda loves seeing her friends again, but she’s particularly fascinated by Nugget’s music. So are the other children of Dull-on-Sea. An emergency meeting interrupts the makeshift concert and everyone repairs to the townhall. As a discussion ensues, Captain Horatio Rattus strolls into their midst and offers to rid the townspeople of the rats . . . for a price. Everyone agrees, including the stingy mayor. Without further ado, Captain Rattus begins playing a hypnotic tune on his pipe. From every rafter, nook, and cranny, the rats emerge and follow the captain onto his ship where he leads them into a crate, which he promises to dump into the sea far away from Dull-on-Sea.
Later, Captain Rattus returns to collect the money owed him. But the mayor reneges on his promise. Double-crossing Rattus isn’t wise – a lesson he soon teaches to the mayor and every other parent in town. Once the sun sets, he plays his pipes; instead of rats, it’s the children who follow him this time. The next morning only one child awakens.
Matilda had recorded Nugget’s fiddling and used it to lull her to sleep. Her parents insist she carry out her usual routine, but what fun is it when she’s the only one in school and all the adults give her funny looks? Determined to solve the mystery, she enlists Jim Lad’s help. While finding the children proves a simple thing, removing Captain Rattus’s spell will be much harder to do. Based on his tactics after the rat infestation, he’s not about to allow Matilda to ruin his plans. If she’s going to outsmart this villain, she’ll need the help of others – and Nugget is key to her plan’s success.
This latest adventure of the Jolley-Rogers is tale spinning at its best with a new take on an old story. The illustrations captivate and the characters beg you to cheer or boo as you wend your way through riveting twists and turns. Matilda and Jim Lad take a backseat to Nugget, who finally shines center stage. What’s left to your imagination is the sound of Nugget’s music. Is she a budding star as the children seem to think, or does her fiddle really sound like “a kraken pullin’ the gizzards from a mermaid?” This delightful chapter book will soon become a favorite of pirates young and old.
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