Monday, February 23, 2015

Hook's Revenge - Heidi Schulz

Summary:  Dear Female Offspring,

Since you are now reading this epistle, the thing I fear has most assuredly happened.  I am dead.

A cold-blood nightmare stalks my every waking minute.  I am haunted by rows of razor-sharp teeth and the ticking of a fiendish timepiece.

You are my only heir.  As such, you must avenge my death.  I lay this charge upon you:  Come to the Neverland.  Hunt the beast and destroy it in my name.

I have no doubt you will fail, for you are practically an infant, and a girl besides.  However, as my only progeny, you must try.  With my blood in your veins, you may yet overcome these weaknesses and bring me victory.

Floreat Etona!

JAS. Hook

You've just been privileged to read a letter from Captain Hook--yes, that Captain Hook--to his thirteen-year-old daughter, Jocelyn.  The girl accepts his charge, of course; but being a pirate is far more difficult than she'd ever imagined.  As if attempting to defeat the Neverland's fearsome crocodile isn't enough to deal with, she must try to captain a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwit cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescue her best friend from a certain pack of lost children (not to mention that irritating Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited).

As the world's foremost expert on Captain Hook, I am more than familiar with Jocelyn's story.  I don't care for children, in general, but if you'll back up a bit and try not to breathe on me, I might be persuaded to tell you the whole tale.  (Summary from book jacket and image from amazon.com.  Book given free for honest review.)

My Review:  I read this with my oldest daughter, so I didn't get the same experience I would have if I'd read it alone.  Meaning, this took way longer to finish and while irksome to me (I wanted to know what happened next!), it was more important to enjoy the ride together.

This book borders on Children's and YA literature.  In other words, I believe both can enjoy it, although for younger readers they'll need a strong vocabulary or have it read to them.  Schulz doesn't shirk from using pirate vernacular--super fun to read aloud!

Schulz takes you on a journey to Neverland you probably weren't expecting.  The first half of the book is more about Jocelyn's life before Neverland--and definitely gives a fun twist to how little girls behave in environments that don't fit every unique personality.  (I think my youngest daughter will eat this book up, as she's my wild one!)  Neverland is everything you hope it still is: lost boys, cannibals, fairies, pirates galore, and of course Peter Pan.  And yet, it's not exactly the same either.  I think my favorite twist Schulz pulls is how you experience Peter Pan.  It's refreshing, at least from a girl's perspective.

Some of the strengths of this book are Schulz's comedic timing, sarcastic humor, situationally appropriate vocabulary, and characters that break gender-role rules.  But, I must mention that there are still morals held within and lessons on believing in yourself despite the odds.

While I find this a great girl-empowering story, I know boys would enjoy the ride.  There's plenty of adventure, lots of male characters, and a fast-paced plot.  Did you ever want to experience being on a pirate crew?  Have you ever wanted to explore Neverland?  Did you ever wonder what the Lost Boys do when Peter's not around?  These are all answered and more.

I'd like to share one last thing before I conclude my review, and it's my favorite opening to a children's book yet:

(Image from http://blog.heidischulzbooks.com/)

I've been given many books for review, and this is one I can unquestioningly say deserves at least a 4.5 star rating.  Additionally, if you live in the Pacific Northwest and would like to have an author visit, Heidi Schulz is great to come speak to schools.

For the sensitive reader:  Clean through and through.  Some minor violence with a large crocodile and sarcastic humor.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Sum it up:  Ever wanted to know what happened to the crocodile that ate Captain Hook?  Read this and you will.


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