Castaways: The Curse of the Jolly Stone Trilogy, Book III

Castaways: The Curse of the Jolly Stone Trilogy, Book III

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by Iain Lawrence

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ADRIFT AT SEA, Tom Tin and his four convict companions are only too glad when they come upon a deserted ship. The boys clamber aboard, not knowing whether they've been saved or set on a course toward doom. But after rescuing two men stranded on a melting iceberg, Tom begins to suspect that these unsavory sailors are dangerous castaways from this very vessel. The more


ADRIFT AT SEA, Tom Tin and his four convict companions are only too glad when they come upon a deserted ship. The boys clamber aboard, not knowing whether they've been saved or set on a course toward doom. But after rescuing two men stranded on a melting iceberg, Tom begins to suspect that these unsavory sailors are dangerous castaways from this very vessel. The more Tom questions the men, the more they dislike him. So, when Tom overhears them plotting to get rid of him, he knows they mean it. But the other boys don't feel threatened - at least not until the sailors attempt to sell them as slaves, a decision that ends with death for some . . . and with Tom sailing the ship home to England.

Soon Tom discovers that he has to cast away every ill-intentioned companion from his voyage home before he can truly be free.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Tom Tin and his companions continue the adventures that began with The Convicts and The Cannibals. Drifting at sea, they attempt to discern the signs of the weather and stories they have heard to determine their best course for survival. Desperation leads them to consider killing one of the group to preserve food for the others when a sail appears on the horizon. It looks like their salvation, but from the time they scramble aboard, dangers appear at every turn. Midgely is convinced their new ship is the Flying Dutchman with a mind and powers of its own to determine their fate. Others come aboard and take control of the ship. Tom realizes the sailors are dangerous when he hears them plotting to get rid of him. He tries to convince his companions of the danger, but they do not believe him until they realize they are about to be sold as slaves. The fast paced adventure unfolds as the boys try to save themselves. Readers of the previous books will particularly enjoy learning how Tom comes to terms with his fate. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
School Library Journal

Gr 5-9 Tom Tin's life has taken a turn for the worse ever since he took possession of the Jolly Stone, a sought-after diamond as big as a doorknob. A wealthy merchant, Mr. Goodfellow, has sentenced Tom's father to debtors' prison and Tom to an island in the South Seas on a convict ship. When Tom and four fellow castaways escape from the cannibal-infested islands on a broken-down boat, their provisions and fuel run out, forcing them to draw threads to see who will die so that the rest can live. Just before the axe is wielded, they run across two stranded sailors who use force to take over Tom's ship and lead the castaways into the hands of slave traders. Thanks to Tom's seafaring upbringing and loads of luck, the boys survive one frightening episode after another, eventually bringing Tom back to London where he can retrieve the Jolly Stone and seek revenge on Mr. Goodfellow. A treasure chest packed with seaworthy adventures, including dangerous encounters with slave traders, cannibals, pirates and the notorious Flying Dutchman, The Castaways leaves readers breathless with its twists and turns. Just when readers might think Tom is out of trouble, he comes face to face with another challenge, developing his character from a fearful boy set on revenge to a mature young man who discovers that you cannot put a price on happiness.-Kimberly Monaghan, formerly at Vernon Area Public Library, IL

Kirkus Reviews
The third episode in Lawrence's early-19th-century Convicts series takes Tom Tin and his blind, ever-faithful companion Midgely from the South Seas back to London for another run-in with the quite deceptively named Mr. Goodfellow. The ruthless merchant prince isn't Tom's only challenge either, as the young traveler generally finds himself in desperate straits, including but not limited to long stretches of drifting helplessly aboard an abandoned ship with a cargo of dead slaves and rotting food, battling a cleaver-wielding child-eater, and being totally paralyzed and buried alive after eating bad shellfish. The author's continuing debt to Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson remains plain in the latest of his nonstop maritime melodramas, and if many of Tom's escapes from agonizing death seem downright miraculous, at least it's easy to tell the bad guys from the good (though some do switch sides), and both ultimately get what's coming to them. Further sequels are likely. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Curse of the Jolly Stone Trilogy , #3
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Random House
File size:
423 KB
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

We steamed along below the stars, half a thousand miles from land. All I could see were the dim shapes of the boys, and the hulk of the engine in the middle of the boat. But up from the bow flew splashes of green, like emeralds sliced from the black sea. In our wake they lay scattered, swirled by the churning of our paddle wheel.
All night I listened to the chant of the steam engine, the chuckatee-chickadee, chuckatee-chickadee that shook every plank and every nail. When the sun came up behind us, our smoke hung over the sea like a greasy pennant streaming from the funnel, a tattered flag that could be seen for many miles. So Gaskin Boggis pulled the fire from its box, dousing each stick over the side with a hissing gout of steam.
Through eleven nights we'd bored through the blackness; through eleven days we'd drifted on a blazing sea. On this morning, our twelfth since we'd last seen land, it was Walter Weedle's turn to stand watch, to keep a lookout for the black sails of the Borneo pirates. As usual, he went grumbling to his place atop the dwindling pile of firewood.

"There's some what never take a turn," he said, with a dark look in my direction. "Should be turn and turnabout, that's what I say."

Only Midgely bothered to argue. "No one minds what you say, Walter Weedle. You can hop it, you can."

Weedle's clumsy feet knocked the logs askew. "There ain't no pirates. We ain't seen a pirate yet. Don't know why we have to stop at dawn."

"'Cause you're a half-wit," cried Midgely. In his blindness he was squinting toward the engine, mistaking its shape for Weedle. "Try steering by the sun, and you'll go in circles, you stupid. But the stars is like a compass, and that Southern Cross is the needle. Ain't that so, Tom?"

"Yes," I said.

"It's going to lead us home. Ain't it, Tom?"

"Of course," I said, as though I actually believed him. Midge thought the Southern Cross hung in the sky like a painted sign. He didn't know how strange and pale a thing it was, so hard to find that I wasn't certain I had ever really seen it. I feared we were already lost.

"Tell him about them other islands, Tom," said Midgely. "Tell him how the Cross will take us there." He rattled off their names again, the Cocos, the Chagos, the Mascarenes. "We can't miss 'em, can we? We'll hop from one to the other like on skipping stones."

He was smiling now, proud as Punch of this notion of his. He had made it sound so simple that we'd all believed it was possible. We had tackled the oceans as only boys might dare to do, chasing the Southern Cross toward islands rich with food and firewood. But now, if we didn't find land within the week, we would have no water left to drink, no food to eat, no wood to burn.

The sea was too huge, the sun too hot. I felt like a candle melting away. Weedle and Boggis and Benjamin Penny were as brown as old figs, while poor Midgely--red and peeling--looked like a lobster boiled in his skin.
He was taking shelter now as the sun climbed over the bow. He tucked himself into the shade of a sea turtle's shell, the last remains of a beast we had slaughtered ten days before. It was nearly as long as Midge was tall, and the boy peered out from one end like the turtle itself.

His eyes were gray, almost covered by his drooping lids. It seemed at times he had no eyes, when all I could see were the darkened crescents below his lashes. But he still smiled in his cheerful fashion. "All's bob, Tom," he said. "We'll reach them islands tomorrow, I think."

I didn't understand how he could never lose hope. I felt like flinging myself down in the kicking tantrum of a child, screaming about the unfairness of it all. I was the owner of a fabulous jewel, of a wealth beyond imagining. I had only to get home to London to claim it. But the Fates, it seemed, would never allow me that.

As I settled down beside Midgely, my thoughts ran their endless circle, beginning--as always--with the notion that I was cursed by the Jolly Stone. I believed absolutely that it brought ruin to all who touched it, and I vowed that I would one day unearth the jewel from its London grave just to pass on the curse to Mr. Goodfellow. I imagined with great pleasure how his greedy eyes would glow when I put the stone into his butter-soft hands.

Then, as always, doubts leapt in to chase this thought. How could a simple stone, a thing of the earth, carry such unearthly power? Wasn't Mr. Goodfellow really to blame? It was he who had sent my father to debtors' prison, and me to the South Seas in the hold of a convict ship. Give the diamond to him? Hardly! I would keep the stone for myself, and use its wealth to crush the man like a cockroach.
But what if the Stone were cursed, I wondered; and round I went again.

I could sometimes spend hours thinking in circles. But today I had only begun when the boat suddenly rocked, and my head banged against its ribs. Benjamin Penny shouted, "Watch where you're going, you great oaf!" Gaskin Boggis was moving to his place beside the engine. That was where he always slept, nestled with the machinery. To him it must have been like a favorite old dog, a friend to be fed and watered by night, to be petted through the day.

I tried to find a bit of shade behind Midgely's turtle shell. But with each roll of the boat, sunlight flashed across my face.

I lay on planks that were, at most, an inch in thickness. On their other side was water so deep that it made me dizzy to think of it. What manner of things lurked down there?

With the engine silenced, I could hear the slop of water beneath the boat. My horrors paraded in my mind: man-eating fishes; serpents and leviathans; storm and tempest; and every man who'd ever drowned. Of them all, this last fear was my greatest. The splash against the planks became the thrashing of lost sailors swimming up behind us. Every scratch and tap of wood was the sound of their fingers feeling at the boat, and I dared not lift my head lest I see them reaching for the gunwale.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Iain Lawrence is the author of numerous acclaimed novels, including The Cannibals, The Convicts, Gemini Summer, B for Buster, The Lightkeeper's Daughter, Lord of the Nutcracker Men, Ghost Boy, and the High Seas Trilogy: The Wreckers, The Smugglers, and The Buccaneers. He lives on Gabriola Island, B. C.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Castaways 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
THE CASTAWAYS is the third book of the trilogy including THE CONVICTS and THE CANNIBALS, and starts off with Tom Tin and his companions adrift at sea. They have escaped the punishment of being sent to Australia as convicts only to find themselves aboard a steamship that is running dangerously low on fuel and with no idea of where they are. They find a ship that is apparently deserted. Fearing that it may be the ghost ship Flying Dutchman, they clamber aboard anyway, perhaps on a course toward certain doom.

Then they locate two men stranded on an iceberg, and take them on board, but when Tom hears them plotting to get rid of him, he is just sure that they are castaways from the very ship they are on, and probably have killed all of the previous crew members.

In a riotous episode, the castaways take Tom and his companions prisoner and prepare to sell them as slaves. Tom and the kids manage to escape that fate and sail to England, where they meet with more adversity and imprisonment.

My only complaint with THE CASTAWAYS is that there are a number of references to episodes that happened in the previous two books, and if you haven't read them, you must use your imagination to get you up to speed on the story line.

A rollicking, fast-moving adventure that melds neatly with the facts of early shipping, pirates, the slave trade, and transporting convicts to Australia. There are characters you will love and a story that keeps you turning the pages to see what happens next, complete with a very satisfying, surprise ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago