From School Library Journal
Grade 3–6—An Australian author known primarily for her puzzle picture books tries her hand at a novel with mixed results. When his Great Uncle Mungo dies, and Poll, a talking parrot, appears on the scene, Jack discovers that he is the next male in line to inherit his family's curse: without warning, people around him turn into pirates and proceed to attack him. The boy learns that he is a direct descendant of the fearsome Blackstrap Morgan, who allegedly betrayed his shipmates and sent them off to hang without their promised portion of the treasure. These ghostly pirates take control of other people's bodies to exact their revenge on their enemy's descendants. There is not much characterization here, and all the adults are portrayed as nitwits who really can't do anything to fix the problem. Jack's only real help comes from his friend Rachel. In the end, he learns to deal creatively with his foes and finally figures out how to get them out of his life. While the story is not much more than a repetitive series of episodes of people—including Jack's teacher and his parents—getting possessed by swaggering buccaneers, this quick read will still have appeal to reluctant readers and fans of pirate yarns.—Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix, AZ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A popular Australian illustrator demonstrates that she can also spin a good yarn. When young Jack Jones inherits the family curse, the result of a long-ago betrayal by his ancestor Blackstrap Morgan, his world becomes unstable: his schoolroom turns into a ship; shop clerks and teachers become stalking pirates; and his socks are transformed into tarantulas. Jack is terrified by the attacks, made worse by the constant commentary of a talking parrot, Poll. No fighter, Jack knows he will have to use his brain to outwit the revengeful pirates, and, with a little luck, he does. Although somewhat stereotypical, secondary characters add humor: Jack's father withdraws to swim laps in the family pool day and night; taking a different tack, Jack's mother calls in experts from Europe and tries to keep her son isolated. Only Jack's friend Rachel is helpful in a fight. Middle-grade readers will enjoy the dialogue, spiced with pirate slang. Straightforward third-person narrative and fast-paced action make this a good choice for the reluctant reader. Kathleen IsaacsCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved