Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults
Capt. Hook: the Adventures of a Notorious Youth
by J. V. Hart
Illustrated by Brett Helquist
HarperCollins, 2005, ISBN 0-06-000220-4, US $15.99 / Can $21.99
Everyone knows the infamous Captain Hook from Peter Pan, or do they?
James Matthew, bastard son of an English Lord, arrives at Eton to attend school. His peers are divided into two factions: Collegers (the bullies) and the Oppidans (the targets of the bullies). Within a matter of minutes, James finds himself among the latter and acquires a variety of nicknames, most uncomplimentary. A fellow Oppidan named Roger Peter Davies, however, quickly becomes James’ first friend, and the pair become known as Jolly Roger and King Jas.
Arthur L. Darling, the leader of the Collegers and highest-ranking student in the dorm where the boys live, takes an instant dislike to James and goes out of his way to torment and demean the newcomer. It doesn’t take long before James finds himself at the wrong end of the hickory rod, which Darling uses to maintain control. Unlike the other boys, James doesn’t cry and scream, and when Darling draws blood, it is Darling and his cohorts who are horrified, for James doesn’t bleed red. His blood is yellow.
Darling is certain he will regain the upper hand at the annual Wall Game between the Collegers and Oppidans, but James and his friends have a few tricks up their sleeves. The rival match, James’ falling in love with an Ottoman Sultana, and the ensuing diplomatic problems that gives the Queen of England, lead King Jas. and Jolly Roger down a path neither expects.
This marvelous tale of Captain Hook’s youth speaks to anyone who has ever suffered from a bully’s taunts and teasing. In spite of King Jas.’ differences and oddities, he compels the reader to cheer for the underdog and the “bad” guy. J.V. Hart breathes life into this character, entertaining us with the story of how a social outcast became “the scourge of Neverland.” He appeals to the child in all of us, and makes certain Capt. Hook isn’t just for older children. It’s a wonderful book for reading aloud, and the black-and-white illustrations enhance the telling. They bring James and his adventures alive. After reading this book, you will know Captain Hook and you will never forget him!
Visit Brett Helquist
Read Chapter One of Capt. Hook (in text or on audio)
Capt. Hook Reading Group Guide
Book Review Copyright ©2006 Cindy Vallar
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