From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–"Fish" Reidy leaves his impoverished family farm in Ireland to be a messenger for his uncle in the city. When someone steals one of his deliveries, he swims after the thief's ship. He finds himself aboard the Scurvy Mistress, along with its determined treasure seeker Captain Cobb, the captain's wife, and a motley crew consisting of One-eyed Willies, British ex-Royal Navy men, and mutinous scalawags. The crew remains loyal to Cobb only as long as their stomachs and coffers stay full, and his idealistic decision to search for the legendary golden chain of Chuacar pushes the greedy first mate to stage an island mutiny. Fish draws on the skills he picked up from the crew members to rescue Cobb and those loyal to the captain. His boisterous and pungent shipboard adventures will sit well alongside favorites like Heather Vogel Frederick's The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed (S & S, 2002) and Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Scholastic, 1990). The sights and smells of life on the high seas, complete with descriptions of bathroom facilities, will give children new insight into this risky career path. Mone seamlessly integrates factual information into his tale of friendship, loyalty, and exploration. As Fish travels from farm to city to ship, he discovers his place in the world, and his moral compass helps to ground and direct the story. His decision not to engage in fighting and his efforts to stop the mutiny will provide points for group discussion. Fish makes a splashing good addition to adventure fiction.Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
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For his first book for children, Mone digs from that most reliable of wells—the pirate adventure. Maurice, nicknamed Fish, is more at home in the water than on the fields of his Irish family’s farm, and after a few zigs and zags, he ends up as a swab-boy aboard the Scurvy Mistress. He learns that pirates break down into two camps: those who quest after legendary booty, like the noble Captain Cobb, and those, like first-mate Scab, who are only interested in bloody raids of every passing ship. Fish’s cleverness, courage, and underwater prowess get put to the test in a series of treasure mappings, sea battles, and traitorous mutinies. The humorous and slightly postmodern tint of the story is evident in the subspecies of grizzled rascals packed onto the ship, like the Scalawags of Sausage (cured-meat enthusiasts). Is it possible to have too many solid pirate yarns? Although this one doesn’t map out much new territory, it’s a good one to crowd onboard. Grades 3-5. --Ian Chipman