Nacky Patcher & the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats

Nacky Patcher & the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats

by Jeffrey Kluger

View All Available Formats & Editions

What Nacky Patcher and Teedie Flinn discover in the owl light and blackberry water of Yole Lake causes them to suspect they are losing their wits. Polished wood as far as the eye can see—an entire ship comes unbuttoned! Yet they see something else, too, something far more important: a way out from the curse that has burdened the poor folks of Yole for


What Nacky Patcher and Teedie Flinn discover in the owl light and blackberry water of Yole Lake causes them to suspect they are losing their wits. Polished wood as far as the eye can see—an entire ship comes unbuttoned! Yet they see something else, too, something far more important: a way out from the curse that has burdened the poor folks of Yole for generations. But first, they will need the villagers to do something they haven’t done in a long time: work as a team.

Jeffrey Kluger, co-author of the blockbuster book-turned-film Apollo 13, delivers one of the finest, quirkiest, and most emotionally satisfying reads of the year. As they rise to the challenge of something greater than themselves, this cast of characters will capture readers’ hearts and imaginations.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
The novel pulses with a passion for the way things work, especially nautical things, that would do David Macaulay and Patrick O'Brian proud. Kluger obviously believes there are 10- and 12-year-olds out there who are wired the same way and isn't afraid to hit them with plugs and trunnels, keelsons and garboards, steamboxes and the intricacies of sails and riggings. Miraculously, there's not a boring sentence in the book. It could have kids all over America building boats in their backyards.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Kluger's first novel for young readers is a fully imagined fantasy with a twist of magic. The village of Yole, once a bustling seaport, is now an arid village, following the "Great Drying" when locals drained the sea, (wrongly) suspecting that fertile land lay beneath it. Now, a greedy landowner rules over a handful of hardscrabble villagers, though Nacky Patcher, an unsuccessful thief, believes that the ballad of the Dry-Land Boats (which he's heard since he was in the cradle) holds the key to the village's redemption. When Nacky and his young sidekick, orphan Teedie Flinn, come upon the wreckage of a ship in the dried-up sea, Nacky believes it is one of these legendary boats. To reverse the curse that has befallen Yole ("This here is a ghost boat turned real.... There's a way to break the charm what's holdin' this town, and we just spotted it"), Nacky insists the villagers help him reconstruct the ship-all "forty thousand and one" pieces of it. The tension mounts as Nacky and his crew work against impossible odds and deadlines to finish the ship. There are memorable characters aplenty and Nacky's swashbuckling adventure should be of special interest to those interested in shipbuilding and the seafaring life. Readers will want to follow the story with a careful eye so as not to miss any clues of the dry-land boats prophecy. Ages 10-up. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Kathy Starks
Those readers in the mood for a rollicking nautical yarn, replete with Dickensian orphans, intertwining storylines a la Holes (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998/VOYA December 1998), and elements from old folktales, will find that Kluger's novel delivers these elements and more. Kluger takes a different tack from his nonfiction works, weaving a vivid and compelling story that incorporates fantasy, history, mystery, and even a dash of romance. The setting is Yole, reminiscent of rural England during the eighteenth century. Nacky Patcher, newly reformed thief, takes in young Teedie Flinn, who has been banned from a nearby village for burning down the half-home where he resided. Together they find the remains of a massive ship in the landlocked lake near their home. How did it get there? Could it have something to do with the boats mentioned in the Songs of the Dry-Land Boats, familiar to all villagers? Nacky and Teedie decide to rebuild the boat, and thus the bulk of the story revolves around this daunting and seemingly impossible task. The colorful characters that inhabit the story are numerous and unique-Jimmer Pike with his knack for building and his house-within-a-house; Emma Hay and her Home for Indigent and Unfortunate Girls; the rich and sinister Mally Balloo, who owns most of Yole and many of the people therein; and Chuff the Dwarf, with his gift for listening. Their stories intertwine, moving from the past to the present, and are neatly resolved by the fantastical ending. Eager readers with an appreciation for imaginative language and storytelling will be rewarded by this singular novel.
School Library Journal

Gr 7-9
A dark charm has held the village of Yole for generations, keeping the folks poor and oppressed by Mally Balloo, the master who owns the town and delights in home-pitchings that evict the villagers. When readers first meet Nacky, he is a thief, a cheat, and a swindler, headed yet again to the penitents' tower. His punishment takes him aboard a ship that wrecks, leaving him with a wooden leg and a pet pig. He returns to Yole and, along with the orphan and alleged fire setter Teedie Flinn, sees an amazing sight in the lake: the wreckage of a teakwood clipper ship. The coast is a half-day's journey away. Could this be one of the dry-land boats in the children's songs-songs that predict the breaking of the dark charm? Nacky is sure that reconstructing the exactly 40,000 pieces of wood into a ship and hauling it to the sea will break the curse. But, for this to happen, all the townspeople must work together and agree to follow the lead of two ne'er-do-wells, Nacky and Teedie, and that seems highly unlikely. The theme of redemption winds through the story. The setting has a medieval feel, with hints of Ireland. This is a very long, complicated novel with lots of characters, subplots, and details. There is much invented vocabulary as well as technical terms and information related to shipbuilding. This quirky tale will appeal mainly to readers who like a challenge.
—Connie Tyrrell BurnsCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
A one-footed ex-thief and a homeless orphan with a ruined hand figure prominently in this ambitious tale of a town that unites to rebuild a clipper ship. Some say that Yole lies under a curse, sitting as it does on the infertile bed of a berry-blue sea that was drained generations ago by land speculators. In any case, it's never amounted to much-until ne'er-do-well Nacky and young Teedie Flinn find 40,000 pieces of teak floating in the local (berry-blue) lake, and persuade the impoverished townsfolk to undertake the seemingly pointless task of fitting them all together. There are obstacles aplenty to overcome-notably the schemes of rapacious landlord Mally Baloo-but overcome they are, and though things don't work out quite as planned, by the end Nacky's in love, injustices have been corrected and Yole has become a workers' paradise. There isn't much here to hook young readers; more a prose stylist than a storyteller, Kluger salts his narrative with fanciful names and words. The pace ambles, he pays more attention to the adult characters and he blithely disregards internal logic to trot in convenient solutions to every problem. A noble effort, but may struggle to find an audience. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Kluger lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >