From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5–This story is predictable and pedestrian. Down-to-earth Philippa and mysterious, patrician Philip, both 11, live on a cruise ship, the S. S. Excalibur. Philip's father is the new captain and Philippa's parents are social directors. When an overbearing passenger and her two obnoxious nephews develop an immediate and unnatural interest in Philip and his dog, Philippa is determined to figure out what is going on. After some sleuthing, it is discovered that the woman is after a diamond she believes to be hidden in the dog's collar. As Levy develops the mystery, she layers Philip's character with a preponderance of backstory. Gerstein's competent line illustrations do little to enhance the story. Stock characters populate the book and a stock plot drives it.–Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NCα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The premise is fun. Eleven-year-old Philippa’s parents work aboard a cruise ship, and she enjoys life at sea. When a new captain comes aboard, he brings his handsome son, Philip, with him, and from the start, it’s clear he’s troubled about something. Is it the pushy travelers, a duchess and her two snotty nephews? What exactly are they after? They certainly seem interested in Philip, and once she befriends him, Philippa, too, is under their malevolent gaze. When two veterans such as Levy and Gerstein join forces, it’s clear the result is going to be good, and with its intriguing high-seas locale, this new mystery series doesn’t disappoint. A smart heroine, a cute boy, and a mystery that can be pretty easily solved make this right on target for a middle-grade audience. And with Caldecott Medalist Gerstein behind the expressive double-page illustrations, you can be sure the artwork is of a higher caliber than is found in most series fiction. Anchors away! Grades 4-6. --Ilene Cooper