From School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Twelve-year-old Scarlet McCray, a girl with a forgotten past, is the captain of the Margaret's Hop, a pirate ship manned by orphans. Alone in the world save for one another, this band of unlikely pirates commands respect on the high seas. Their mission: to help children in need, which leads them to the daring rescue of 11-year-old Jem Fitzgerald, who was taken captive by the most notorious pirate around and his crew of scalawags. Unknown to Scarlet, Jem's famous botanist uncle entrusted him with a map to the most sought-after treasure known, which sends the crew on the mission of a lifetime. On this journey, the children learn that the most valuable treasures in life are those that come from within. Readers will enjoy the quick pace and exciting escapades of this first novel. The vivid descriptions of the setting will place them in the dark, dank alleys and dirty, dangerous wharfs of old. The characters are well developed, and readers will root for Scarlet and her crew and be thrilled with the resolution. A glossary and an illustration of Jem's treasure map will aid reluctant readers.-Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DEα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
New Worlds Islands is a peculiar place, still haunted by the unsettling memory of a cruel invasion by King Abelard that left native islanders marginalized and wracked with plague. Legend suggests that a lost treasure is up for grabs, and everyone is looking for it, including the king’s men, islanders, and the scalawag crew known as the Lost Souls, who float aimlessly on the islands’ waters. The Lost Souls, an all-child crew, is captained by fearless and fun Scarlet McCray, who is at home dressing as a boy, manning her ship’s rigging, or engaging in a sword fight. When the Souls manage to kidnap Jem Fitzgerald, a young outsider with a cryptic treasure map, Scarlet must make tough choices about what is truly valuable to her and to her crew. Pirate tales certainly aren’t scarce, but Delaney’s debut novel stands out as a teachable allegory for the problems of colonization. In spite of a sometimes heavy message, swashbuckling fun abounds for boys and girls alike. Illustrated with maps. Grades 4-6. --Erin Anderson