This post is part of the World of Ink book tour for Powder Monkey. I received a copy of the book free for an honest review.
Title: Powder Monkey
Author: Donna McDine
Artist: KC Snider
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Gene: Children’s historical fiction
Morality rating: PG
Readability Rating: 3 stars
Forced into a life at sea by the Royal Navy Press Gangs, 12-year-old Tommy Kitt finds himself in a floating sea of misery. Poor living conditions and beatings occur daily. Despite his small size, Tommy must summon the courage and physical ability to prevail in a situation he cannot escape.
About the author
Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book fiction, and Preditor & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Book ~The Golden Pathway.
Her stories, articles and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s recent releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony will be joined by two more books to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, A Sandy Grave, and Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network and Family Reading Partnership.
Powder Monkey is an educational read that looks into the lives of children forced into naval service by press gangs. I thought the illustrations were excellent, but overall, I felt like the book was more of an introduction to a longer book than a completed picture book.
Plot: In this story, a boy is taken by a press gang and forced into naval service. From what I understand, this happened a lot at the time, which is a interesting look into history. It was easy to see the difficulty that young boys had with this career path. I was kind of surprised this was the subject of a picture book, however, as many of the events in the plot were quite graphic and a little violent.
Characters: The main character in this book is Tommy Kitt. He struggles to find his way in a situation that he doesn’t like and cannot control. I felt like his character was developed, but since the story was short, it was hard to really get to know him as a character.
Setting: I thought the setting in this book was well established. I could see the events unfolding on the boat, and the illustrations were perfect for the style of the book.
Writing: I was a little confused by the writing style of this story. It was unlike any other picture book I had ever seen. I liked how the story started, but it felt more like the descriptions of the images than a completed story. After I finished the book I thought some pages were missing from my copy. I liked the writing style, but I felt it belonged in a longer book, rather than a short picture book. I also felt like the writing was too advanced for a picture book.
Illustrations: I really liked the illustrations. I thought they fit the theme of the story perfectly.
I liked this book, but I really felt like it was unfinished, and beyond the comprehension level of most children. I would like to see McDine turn it into a full-length novel for middle school readers.