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Children's LiteratureWhen Mrs. McNemmish, distant relative of Blackbeard the Pirate, dies on a small island, she sets in motion a great adventure for local children Billy, Daniel, Stephanie, and Mark. Before her death, Mrs. McNemmish asks the children to bury her at sea and hints that she knows where Blackbeard's treasure is hidden. Once they do that, they may look in a chest she bequeaths to them. After stealing her body from the local church and burying it at sea, the children open the trunk and find a tunnel. They begin exploring, but are locked in the tunnel by Zeek, who also seeks Mrs. McNemmish's treasure. However, Zeek soon encounters the ghosts of Mrs. McNemmish and Blackbeard himself. Once the children are rescued from the tunnel, they find the true treasure Mrs. McNemmish bequeathed to them. Penn's attempt to create a grand pirate adventure falls flat. Mrs. McNemmish request for the children to bury her at sea defies legal, moral, and common sense (she very easily could have put that request in her will). Sadly, the body stealing scene is the most proactive scene the children have in the entire book. During the rest of the book, most of the action is taken by adults. The three male children have few defining characteristics and Stephanie is a very stereotypical female. Mrs. McNemmish is an interesting character, but shows up far too little to redeem this banal adventure. 2004, Tanglewood Press, Ages 8 up.
—Amie Rose Rotruck