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Children's LiteratureIn a "closely parallel" historical world, Miss Artemesia Fitz-Willoughby Weatherhouse, age sixteen, wakes up from a head injury one day at her finishing school in "Lundon" to remember her former life as the daughter of Molly Faith, the daring Piratica, captain of the pirate vessel Unwelcome Stranger. So Art escapes up a chimney and sets out to rejoin her dead mother's crew, now engaged in the unworthy—for pirates—work of advertising coffee on the Pirate Coffee and lead them back to search for treasure on the high seas. What follows is a lengthy series of piratical adventures in "Africay" and "Mad Agash Scar," as Art is pitted against her arch-rival, Little Goldie Girl. The gender roles seem too dutifully reversed, in 1970s feminist fashion: When a former shipmate tells Art, "Fear not, we'll take care of you," she replies haughtily, "I don't need taking care of. I will take care of you." And her reluctant love interest, Felix Phoenix, is a pale and weakly effeminate pacifist, sworn to oppose all things piratical. Art never becomes a character we can become close to or truly care about, and despite her "noble" creed of refusing to kill her enemies, a life of theft and pillage is as morally problematic as Felix recognizes it to be. But fans of Stevenson's Treasure Island should have fun with Piratica, too, and the ending is so gosh-darned satisfying that most readers will join in cheering in spite of themselves. 2004, Dutton, Ages 10 up.
—Claudia Mills, Ph.D.