From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4 It is 1718, and Blackbeard, recently pardoned by the governor of North Carolina, has settled in Ocracoke Inlet. Virginia's governor calls upon Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy to lead a group of mercenaries to execute the notorious buccaneer in a preemptive attack. Cabin boy Jeremy Hobbs listens to dreadful rumors about the pirate, but also hears surprisingly good reports about his generosity and charisma. As Jeremy bears witness to the battle, he contemplates the right and wrong of the action, the larger picture, and the mystery of the man who is Blackbeard. Basing his account on sources noted in an afterword, Kimmel retells this story with plenty of action and detail. His Blackbeard is not a sanitized caricature, and there are brandished cutlasses, smoking muskets, and dead bodies in the narrative. Descriptions of the pirate's decapitation and the strapping of his head to Maynard's bowsprit might alarm some youngsters. Still, readers will identify with Jeremy, who is both terrified and exhilarated. Fisher depicts the villain in all his fearsome glory. The battle scenes are sea-sprayed and wonderfully choreographed, full of colorful corsairs and straight-faced sailors. Although not for the fainthearted, this tale is an exciting and satisfying read. Kara Schaff Dean, Needham Public Library, MA
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Gr. 2-4. Based on a real event that took place in the eighteenth century off the coast of North Carolina, this picture book for older children captures what occurred when the Royal Navy illegally attacked the famous pirate Blackbeard. The story is told through the perspective of Jeremy, a fictional cabin boy. The viewpoint seems contrived, in both story and pictures, especially when Jeremy learns about the legendary rascal's softer side (the devotion of his 16 wives and of the Africans he freed) and when he experiences Blackbeard's rough kindness before the pirate's death. What will grab kids is the sea battle, pictured in bright, dramatic paintings that show the pirate close up, his beard braided into little pigtails tied with green ribbons. Many kids will want to find out more about the rebel's stirring bloody history. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved