Author: Brian Jacques
Year Published: 2001
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Overall Rating: 3 stars
Target Audience: Middle schoolers
Setting: A 1620’s ship, then a late 1800’s English village
Characters: Ben, Ned (his dog), Winnie, Alex and Amy (siblings), and various other sailors and village people.
Plot: In the 1600’s, Ben was part of the original crew of the Flying Dutchman ship. Due to the ruthless nature of the captain and reprobate nature of the crew, an angel cursed the ship to roam the seas forever. Because Ben was a child with a pure heart, the angel allowed them to live forever, traveling around the world and helping people. In the late 1800’s, Ben and Ned happen across a small English village in need of their aid.
Thoughts: I’m not too sure about this book. I really like the Redwall series that Jacques writes. Those stores have fast-paced action, entertaining (if somewhat predictable) plotlines, and plenty of beautiful descriptions and a rich vocabulary that makes them fun to read. This book seems much simpler. Although there are some of the same hallmarks in the story, there seems to be fewer descriptions and the writing style appears simpler. I’m also not certain that I like the plot. I think I would have preferred the book if the setting had stayed in the 1600’s with pirates and high seas adventures and whatnot. Overall, this book reminds me of books that I really loved when I was in middle school myself, so I think it really is a good choice for that age group. I was just a little sad, reading it as an adult, that it lacked adventure.
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