Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary Jacky Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack Adventure Series #1)

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary Jacky Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack Adventure Series #1)

4.7 174
by L. A. Meyer

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Reduced to begging and thievery in the streets of London, a 13-year-old orphan disguises herself as a boy and connives her way onto a British warship set for high sea adventure in search of pirates.  See more details below


Reduced to begging and thievery in the streets of London, a 13-year-old orphan disguises herself as a boy and connives her way onto a British warship set for high sea adventure in search of pirates.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The tale of Mary, an 18th-century London street urchin who dresses as a boy, renames herself "Jacky" and goes to sea as a ship's boy, soars to new heights in the audio format. Mary's distinctive Cockney dialect is tailor-made for reading aloud. And with award-winning narrator Kellgren at the helm, the result is pure magic. She creates authentic character voices, switching effortlessly among Mary's Cockney, the melodic Irish lilt of sailor Liam, the educated American voice of schoolmaster Tilden, the chillingly sinister, leering tone of Jacob Sloat and many other voices without missing a beat. Her acting is also first-rate: her tone of pride as Mary boasts of her achievements, her tenderness as she speaks of Jaimy, the boy she secretly falls in love with, and the sheer terror in her voice during scenes of violence and danger will have listeners on the edge of their seats. For tweens and teens caught up in this summer's Pirate Fever,Bloody Jackis the perfect audiobook to make those long family car trips fly by. Ages 12-up. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
Twelve year-old Mary Faber knows hunger and coldness and loneliness. After losing her family to the plague and being thrown out on the streets, she survives by taking up with a street gang of other orphans. When the opportunity arises to work as a ship boy, Mary jumps at the chance not to fight for food and shelter every day. She chops off her hair, dons a pair of boy's britches, and becomes Jacky Faber. Aboard the ship, the ship boys quickly form a close-knit group, working, laughing, and watching out for each other. Jacky keeps up her charade and grows accustomed to her new life. But trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes. Whether it's getting blamed for growing unease among the crew or unexpectedly falling in love with a fellow ship's boy, Jacky must use every thing she learned on the street to keep up her deception. This is a properly thrilling adventure with pirates, shipwrecks, and even a little romance, able to pull in both boys and girls. Although Jacky is actually a girl, at times the reader completely forgets the charade. Transported into a time of pirates and plagues, readers will gain a better understanding of the late eighteenth century. 2002, Harcourt,
— Leah Hanson
This stands up to Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and to Iain Lawrence's trilogy of sea adventures: the action is riveting, the settings exotic and realistically described, the main character is memorably inventive and courageous. At the beginning of the 19th century, Mary, an orphan on London's mean streets, disguises herself as a boy and signs on to His Majesty's Navy as a ship boy. The ship holds 400 men and is assigned to hunt for pirates along the coast of North Africa and in the Caribbean. Mary, now Jacky, is small for her age and tough, so she has no trouble maintaining The Deception, as she names her task of shielding the truth about her identity. Life on board ship is described vividly and the reader feels a part of the voyages. A few years pass and Jacky starts to fill out a bit and gets her period, so her subterfuge gets trickier. She and the boys are quite ignorant about sexual matters, for the most part, but they have been warned against pederasts, admonished to stick together for protection. Jacky is falling in love with another ship's boy, Jaimy, who in horror tells her he is afraid he is like a pederast because he is attracted to her (Jaimy thinks she is a boy at this point). Jacky reveals her secret and the two sneak around finding places to tryst like any other pair of teenage lovers. Speaking of pederasts, there is one on board, who almost rapes Jacky. Fortunately, she has the presence of mind (and the dagger) to kill him. This is only one scene of violent mayhem, as pirate attacks on the ship occur and Jacky earns her title Bloody Jack for good reason. The action gets only more thrilling towards the end of the book, as Jacky, with an eyeglass, is hoistedonto a kite as a lookout, but the tree the kite is lashed to is uprooted and she flies away for miles across the sea. Fortuitously, she lands on an island where pirates have stashed their treasure, and so it goes. There is drama until the final page. Any younger YA—through 14 or 15 years old—would love this, and even the passages of dialect shouldn't deter readers. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2002, Harcourt, 277p.,
— Claire Rosser; KLIATT
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-With the plague running rampant in London in 1797, Mary's parents and sister are soon counted among the dead. Left alone and penniless, the eight-year-old is taken in by a gang of orphans and learns survival skills. However, when their leader is killed, Mary decides to try her luck elsewhere. She strips the dead body, cuts her hair, renames herself Jack Faber, and is soon employed as a ship's boy on the HMS Dolphin. When the vessel sees its first skirmish with a pirate ship, her bravery saves her friend Jaimy and earns her the nickname "Bloody Jack." Told by Mary/Jack in an uneven dialect that sometimes doesn't ring true, the story weaves details of life aboard the Dolphin. Readers see how she changes her disguise based on her own physical changes and handles the "call of nature," her first experiences with maturation, and the dangers to boys from unscrupulous crew members. The protagonist's vocabulary, her appearance and demeanor, and her desire to be one of the boys and do everything they do without complaint complete the deception. This story also shows a welcome slant to this genre with an honorable, albeit strict Captain, and ship's mates who are willing and able teachers. If readers are looking for a rousing, swashbuckling tale of pirates and adventures on the high seas, this title falls short. However, it is a good story of a brave ship's "boy" with natural leadership abilities and a sense of fair play and humanity.-Kit Vaughan, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Posing as a lad in the late 1790s, a spunky orphan girl secures a job as a ship's boy in the British Navy, a position that becomes compromised by her evolving maturity and love for a fellow crewmember. Meyer, a debut novelist, has penned a rousing old-time girl's adventure story, with an outsized heroine who is equal parts gutsy and vulnerable, then sets her loose on a pirate-hunting vessel in the high seas. The novel is full of action and derring-do, but the real suspense is generated by maintaining what the heroine calls "The Deception," her disguise as a boy. Initially, it's fairly easy because Jacky, as the heroine decides to call herself, is as flat-chested, hairless, and high-voiced as the rest of the boys. She simulates using the ship's head, imitating the boys' "shake-and-wiggle action" and even creates a faux penis out of cloth under her drawers, so that she's as "well rigged out" as the rest of the lads. Clever and courageous, Jacky deals with both the ship's bully and pedophile, fights pirates valiantly, and manages to save the day for her shipmates, enabling them to secure the buccaneers' booty. Jacky is such a marvelous creation that the other characters feel shadowy in comparison, and the least engaging parts of the novel involve her secret romance with a fellow ship's boy. Capped by a fitting but bittersweet ending, the first-person narrative shines, and a wealth of historical research is seamlessly knitted into the material. A first-rate read. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher

* “A rattling good read.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

• “Although many fictional heroines have sailed in disguise before Jacky Faber, her coarse, cheeky street voice and naïve but observant take on shipboard life set her apart.” —The Bulletin, starred review

“Marvelous. . . . A first-rate read.” —Kirkus Reviews

A Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Bloody Jack Adventure Series, #1
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Bloody Jack

Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary ', Jacky', Faber
By Louis A. Meyer

Rebound by Sagebrush

Copyright ©2004 Louis A. Meyer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 061371640X

An Orphan, Cast Out in the Storm,
Body and Soul Most Lightly Connected,
A Tiny Spark on the Winds of Chance Borne,
To the Fancies of Fortune Subjected.

Chapter 1
Rooster Charlie allows as how today he's goin' to see Dr. Graves himself, the bloke what sends Muck around to pick up dead orphans for the di-seck-shun and for the good of science and all, to see if Charlie his ownself can get paid for his body before he goes croakers so's he can have the pleasure of it himself, like.
Me and the others laugh and jeer and say, "Charlie, you ain't got the bollocks. He'll prolly open you up right there, without so much as a by-your-leave." But Charlie, he hikes up his pants and gives his vest a pat and off he goes to sell his body. The pat is for his shiv, which he keeps tucked next to his ribs.
I've been with Charlie and the gang for four, maybe five, years since That Dark Day when me world was changed forever, but I can't be sure, the seasons run into each other so-we shivers and dies of the cold in the winter and sweats and dies of the pestilence in the summer, so it's all one. It's been close a couple of times, but I ain't dead yet.
We begs mostly, please Mum please Mumplease Mum, over and over and we steals a bit and we gets by, just. There's only six of us right now 'cause Emily died last winter. I woke up next to her stiff body in the morning in our kip and I took her shift, which is too big but which I wears over me other shift, that givin' me two things I own besides me immortal soul. We tried takin' poor naked dead Emily down to the river and floatin' her off with the proper words and all, but she's stiff and hard to move and Muck caught us at it and stole her away. He gives us a curse for tryin' to get her away and for takin' her shift, too, that which he could have sold to the ragman.
Charlie is the leader of our gang and is called the Rooster 'cause his last name is Brewster, and him being such a cocky little banty, it seems natural, like. He's small, but he's smart and quick. Charlie's hair is straight and red and hangs to one side like a cock's comb. He's got britches that were once white and a once-white shirt and a bright blue vest over that, and he looks right fine, he does. A flash cove is our Rooster Charlie.
Besides him there's Polly and Judy and Nancy, and Hugh the Grand, him what is big and strong like an ox but what is a bit slow in the head. Charlie is fond of pattin' him on his broad back and sayin', "Our Hughie is our muscle and our tower of strength in this world of strife and trouble," and every time he does it, Hughie blushes all red and rocks his head side to side and grins his big dumb grin in his gladness. Charlie takes care of us, and with his cheek and his bravado and his shiv and our Hughie, the other gangs keep their distance.
Since I'm the smallest, I get called Little Mary, even though I ain't near to bein' the youngest no more.
The gang is always changin', as we loses some and we brings some in. Like the girl what stole me clothes before, whose name is Betty, was stole herself awhile back as two of the women from Missus Tuttle's lit upon our little band to find a replacement for their servant girl who had died. They picked Betty and allowed as they was gonna make a fine lady out of her, Isn't that right, Bessie, just like us. So they takes our Betty off, and Charlie says that he'll give it two days and then he'd go see her and if she wanted to come back, he'd steal her back, but after the two days he goes to see, and, no, she didn't want t' come back, she wanted to stay and be a fine lady. And I din't get me clothes back, either, even though they prolly would still have fit.
"Whyn't all us girls go off to Missus Tuttle's to be fine ladies," says I, thinkin' maybe there'd be food there and beds and stuff, but then Charlie tells me to shut my silly girly gob, as what do I know about anything in the world. Then he tells us what goes on at Missus Tuttle's, but I don't believe him, not for a minute. Disgustin', it is. "Such a mind you have, Charlie, to be thinkin' of such."
"Mary, bless you, you'll find out soon enough," says Charlie.
Our kip is up under the Blackfriars Bridge, just where the bridge meets the road real sharp so there's a cave under there, like. We got some straw from the stables on the sly, a little bit at a time, so at night we all burrows in and sleeps in a pile for warmth and comfort. When it rains, trickles of water come down through the black stones, but we knows where they'll be comin' now, so we keeps away. Can't keep away the damp from the river, though. I t what took Emily off, the damp and cold from the river. In the night the lights from the city lamps bounce off the waves, and on foggy nights horns sound low and mournful back and forth. It's ships makin' their way to someplace else, and I want to be going somewheres else, too.
Other gangs would like to have our kip, but with Hugh the Grand shakin' his big fists and bellowin' and Charlie wavin' his shiv and the rest of us throwin' rocks, we manages to chase them off and keep our home, at least for the time bein'.
At night, when we're all in a pile, we talks and makes up stories about what we're goin' to be if we grows up. Like Charlie says, he'll be a soldier and all and trade his shiv for a great gleamin' sword and fine red uniform and won't all the fine ladies love him and we girls all says we loves him right now but he says that don't count, us bein' worthless drabs and all and he gets jabbed in the ribs for his cheek.
Hughie allows as how he'd like to be a horse handler 'cause horse handlers have to be big and strong, which he is, and he likes horses and even likes the smell of 'em. We all hold our noses and say phew, but he don't care, he likes 'em, is all. There's lots of horses here in Cheapside 'cause of all the markets and fairs.
Judy's of a practical turn of mind, too, as she wants to go into service and be a maid for a fine lady, but first she's got to get big enough to be useful to some such fine lady and not just eat her out of house and home. Polly, she just wants to marry a good man and raise up babies. Nancy says she wants to get married, too, and maybe she and her man would have a tavern where there'd be lots of good things to eat and drink, but they'd k Muck out, it bein' a respectable place, like.
I say I want to be the captain of a fine ship and sail around the world and see the Cathay Cat and the Bengal Rat and gaze upon the Kangaroo, which is what I heard some sailors singin' about over at Benbow's Tavern one day and it sounded right fine to me, them all happy and singin' and carefree, it seemed. I'll get rich and famous and spend all me money takin' care of poor miserable orphans, and I get handfuls of straw thrown at me for me sentiments.
'Cut out the middleman!' says I to the worthy doctor. 'Pay me now only half what ye'd be payin' Muck for me earthly remains and I promises to come and lie down on yer doorstep every time I feels sick and liable to die. I'd even carry a note to the effect that if I perished somewheres else, my body was to be delivered to the Honorable Doctor without delay!'" says Charlie, having returned from the anatomist's full of gruesome stories of bloody tables and knives and things put up in jars.
"And Muck himself is there ascowlin' at the notion of his bein' cut out of the bargain, but the doctor says no, it was against his ethics to conduct negotiations with a live body, even though he was sure I was possessed of an admirable spleen."
We're all gigglin' and snortin', and Charlie goes on with, "I owns I got a right fine spleen and if Your Honor would pay me now, I'd be sure to keep it in special prime condition for his later use and joy. Massage it up twice a week to keep it nice and soft and all." Charlie shakes his head sadly, swinging his red mop.
"His Honor would have none of it, and he has Muck put his foul hands on me to toss me out, spleen and all."
"And for that," resolves to abuse me spleen most terrible."
We all gets a howl out of Charlie's prancin' around and telling of the stomachs that are blown up and dried like the blowfish we see in the fish market, and other guts tanned and pickled and preserved. But then he tells of seeing a baby's hand floating in some juice and that shuts up my laughing right quick.
I knows me sister Penny is put up in jars, and I suspects that someday I will be, too.

Copyright © 2002 by L. A. Meyer

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Excerpted from Bloody Jack by Louis A. Meyer Copyright ©2004 by Louis A. Meyer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Marvelous. . . . A first-rate read."—Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

L. A. MEYER received a master of fine arts degree from Boston University, and is currently the curator and exhibitor at the Clair de Loon Gallery in Bar Harbor, Maine. He lives in Corea, Maine.

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