Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates Series #1)

Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates Series #1)

4.3 8
by Caroline Carlson
     
 

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Admiral Westfield sucked in his breath and released it in a tremendous gust. "My dear," he said, "let me be clear: You are a young lady. You will not tell silly tales and you will never be a pirate."

Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of

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Overview

Admiral Westfield sucked in his breath and released it in a tremendous gust. "My dear," he said, "let me be clear: You are a young lady. You will not tell silly tales and you will never be a pirate."

Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors. She particularly enjoys defying authority, and she already owns a rather pointy sword. There's only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.

Girls belong at Miss Pimm's Finishing School for Delicate Ladies, learning to waltz, faint, and curtsy. But Hilary and her dearest friend, the gargoyle, have no use for such frivolous lessons—they are pirates! (Or very nearly.)

To escape from a life of petticoats and politeness, Hilary answers a curious advertisement for a pirate crew and suddenly finds herself swept up in a seafaring adventure that may or may not involve a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn't exist, a rogue governess who insists on propriety, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous—and unexpected—villain on the High Seas.

Will Hilary find the treasure in time? Will she become a true pirate after all? And what will become of the gargoyle?

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Marjorie Ingall
…this is a drawing-room comedy set on the high seas…The book is deliciously feminist but wears its politics lightly. Relationships are sweet and beautifully drawn, there is at least one laugh per page, and I quite enjoyed the notion of entrenched pirate bureaucracy…
Publishers Weekly
★ 08/12/2013
There’s merriment and intrigue on the high seas in this debut novel, which sets the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series off to a promising start. Carlson’s characters are as memorable as they are entertaining, beginning with headstrong Hilary Westfield, the daughter of a pompous admiral. Hilary longs to be a pirate but is sent to finishing school, where embroidery, etiquette, and fainting are mainstays of the curriculum; accompanying her is a wisecracking gargoyle carved centuries before by an enchantress. Hilary runs away from school to join the crew of a “freelance” pirate, Jasper Fletcher, which also includes her former governess, an arrogant boy named Oliver, and the gargoyle, who serves as the ship’s figurehead (when Hilary tells him he needn’t serve that function, he replies, “And let some no-good mermaid get the job? I think not!”). A race to uncover long-lost magical treasure pits Hilary against her father, and several unforeseen plot zigzags (along with humorous letters, newspaper clippings, and guidebook excerpts) keep the novel on a delightfully screwy course. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Shannon Associates. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
A conked-out attacker lying in a pool of…beet juice is as close as this dainty piratical escapade gets to actual gore or violence. Except for providing application forms and refusing to let young Hilary Westfield be the pirate she's always longed to be, the bureaucratic buccaneers of the series' title remain in the wings in this kickoff tale. She must, perforce, accompanied by her brisk governess and trusty talking stone gargoyle, take matters into her own hands. She slips away from Miss Pimm's Finishing School for Delicate Ladies to join gentlemanly freelance pirate Jasper Fletcher ("Terror of the Southlands," as he's repeatedly dubbed) on a search for a certain fabulous trove of magical gold hidden long ago. Ensuing complications include the horrifying revelation that her own father, a renowned admiral, is scheming to take over the kingdom and banish piracy forever. The tongue-in-cheek tale is punctuated by vigorous but injury-free melees, plus images of tabloid newspaper pages, advertisements, extracts from the titular league's "Treasure Hunting for Beginners" manual and "handwritten" correspondence, including breathless exchanges between Hilary and a school friend. The adventure winds its way to a glittering hoard, a fabulous wedding and, best of all, a well-earned league membership card for its plucky protagonist. Even the gargoyle comes away with a pirate hat. A polite chorus of "Aaarrgghh"s all round, please, for this rather twee outing. (Fantasy. 10-13)
Soman Chainani
A whimsical, swashbuckling romp into a deeply imaginative world; Carlson’s novel is as plucky and clever as its heroine.
Sarah Prineas
Avast! Pirates, magic, girl hero and a gargoyle sidekick? YES!! MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT is an amazing debut, a funny, rollicking adventure featuring a take-no-prisoners heroine and a cast of colorful characters. I eagerly look forward to the next book.
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
Gr 3–6—Hilary strives to be a pirate, but it's hard when the VNHLP (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates) declines her application because of her gender. She's also the daughter of the Admiral of the Augusta Royal Navy, who is a sworn enemy of pirates, and she's been sent to a finishing school run by Miss Pimm where she is trapped in fainting, waltzing, and embroidery classes. Luckily, Hilary has her magic gargoyle to assist her in running away to the ship of the Terror of the Southlands, a polite pirate named Jasper Fletcher. Along with Jasper's ward, Charlie; Hilary's governess, Miss Greyson; and a boy she suspects is a spy, Hilary sails off on the Pigeon in search of magic buried by the Enchantress of Augusta. But there is something fishy going on in Augusta with magical items being stolen, Miss Pimm taking her girls to sea, and the admiral in hot pursuit of the Pigeon, unconcerned that his daughter is onboard. Will the magic fall into the wrong hands? Will Hilary and Charlie be able to rescue their friends from the dungeons into which they have been mistakenly tossed? In the end, no one is who they seem. In the magical world of Augusta, pirates grow beautiful flower gardens, letters mysteriously get to ships within hours, and the dungeons contain crocheted rugs. The narrative is interspersed with letters, forms, and quotes from the VNHLP handbook that make for entertaining reading, and the whole package is a silly, rollicking good time.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062194343
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/10/2013
Series:
Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates Series, #1
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
717,416
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.42(h) x 1.22(d)
Lexile:
900L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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