From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8 - Fleishman's latest novel features pirates, bandits, romance, and revenge, all set in the lively world of 1846 San Diego. A cabin boy named Shipwreck arrives in town in the company of Captain Gallows, a dashing pirate with a good heart. While waiting to return to his New England home, Shipwreck helps the captain conceal a treasure while the man searches for his long lost love. The novel moves at a breakneck pace, with background about the fascinating historical period woven in between jewel thefts, duels, and narrow escapes. It's all good fun, punctuated by Fleischman's spirited prose and colorful dialogue, but the barrage of characters and events can be overwhelming at times, and some plot twists aren't fully developed. Readers may guess the hidden identity of the female bandit early on, but that development is still largely satisfying. The revelation of the true nature of the Captain's arch enemy, on the other hand, makes for a surprising and thought-provoking twist. The characterizations and conflicts don't quite match the richness of some of Fleischman's other works, but the brisk plot in a well-realized setting makes this an entertaining historical adventure tale. - Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
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Gr. 4-6. First shipwrecked and then captured by pirates, young Edmund Amos Peters winds up in sunny San Diego. Perhaps his life has taken a turn for the better. Alas, no, for the year is 1846, and the U.S. is at war with Mexico, which puts Edmund, an American, once more in jeopardy. But wait! The chief pirate, named Captain Gallows, is a Mexican who is determined to give up his life on the sea. Will he become Edmund's protector? Fleischman has written another tale that seamlessly blends rousing adventure and good humor. In the process, as he "confesses" in an appended note, he has completed a trilogy of sorts about California history that began with By the Great Horn Spoon! (1963) and continued with Bandit's Moon (1998). But even with that said, the open ending of this book seems to suggest a sequel. Ah, another mystery . . . Michael Cart
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