Freedom and Slavery in 18th Century life in the carribbean and South American are studied in this sea adventure story.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn the 18th century, as 14-year-old William Bernard sails from his father's plantation in Jamaica to study in England, his ship is suddenly overtaken by the nefarious pirate Blackbeard. Although he kidnaps William, he treats him with relative benevolence. The seizing of a pirate vessel from Barbados leads to William's befriending Sam, age 16, the slave and illegitimate son of weak-willed Major Bonnet. The teenagers plan and execute a successful escape that yields an adventurous voyage to Jamaica. Haugaard sets the stage for William's windswept adventures with evocative details about brigantines and plenty of swashbuckler talk (``We shall blow the ship up,'' says Blackbeard. ``Methinks the crew has grown thirsty from this day's work. It will be fitting to celebrate with a bit of fireworks''). Nevertheless, a dark tone permeates much of the novel: Sam shows the scars he bears from his father's whippings, and the boys meet a terrified 11-year-old girl who has been raped by pirates. For all the exotic color, the pacing is sluggish, and the ending abrupt and unsatisfying. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Kathleen KarrIn 1716, fourteen-year-old William Bernard is sent by his plantation-owning father from Jamaica to England to conclude his education. While enroute through the pirate-infested Caribbean, the infamous Blackbeard captures Will's ship. Will becomes Blackbeard's unwilling protege'. Through Will's eyes, and through the experiences of the slave boy Sam, whom he befriends, the tribulations of life at sea among an outcast band are explored. Haugaard gives little quarter in his details of the misery and brutality of the calling, but such details are offset by the fast-moving sense of adventure. "A great story!" according to Daniel Karr, age 11.
School Library JournalGr 6-10-William, the young son of a wealthy landowner in Jamaica, is kidnapped from his father's ship while on his way to England and forced to be a manservant to Blackbeard himself. Eventually, his captors overtake another pirate vessel and Will meets Samuel, the illegitimate son of its captain. This is a high-seas adventure full of duels, cannonballs flying, drinking and songs, and the seizing of ships under fire. The characters are lively and likable, although Will seems slightly too prepared for his life as a pirate. The setting is well described, giving readers the feeling of being a part of the ship, the waves, and the wind. However, they will likely feel nothing for the antagonists. Will takes Blackbeard and his evil deeds in stride; thus the notorious outlaw is rendered ordinary. Furthermore, there is no mention of the burning desire for escape that one would imagine from a boy in his situation. Although Will mentions escape a few times, it is only in passing. Still, readers who enjoy action, especially the swashbuckling variety, will snatch up this book.-Sandra J. Langlais, Newport Public Library, RI
- Rinehart, Roberts Publishers, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 - 18 Years
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