Review Blog

May 21 2013

The Pirate Company: On the Trail of the Golden Toucan by Susan Cason

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Scholastic Australia, 2013. ISBN: 9781742990026. RRP: $14.99 288p.
(Age: 9-11) Highly recommended. Themes: Pirates; Adventure; Voyages and Travels. Tom Applecross's life is one of misadventure, his father Josiah Applecross a famous explorer has failed to return from his latest expedition. His avaricious stepmother Evlynne casts him aside and he has to leave Port Pandora to live with his Great-Aunt Audrey in Boston. Aboard the Marie-Gallante his life undergoes a radical change. Fearsome pirates swarm the ship flourishing an armoury of bayonets and pistols, frightening the passengers and crew with their blood-curdling cries. They ransack the ship and steal personal possessions, supplies and the pink pearls.
Later that night Tom is swept overboard in a storm and is washed ashore on a deserted island. By coincidence this is where the pirates come ashore to replenish their buried treasure chest. Tom is captured by Carrot and Mortlock who is meaner than a tubful of piranhas, and they row him to their ship The Thimblerig. There he awaits his fate at the hands of Captain Shearwater. Along the way Captain Shearwater's niece Rosie assists Tom is his myriad of adventures.
Each chapter is full of rich sensory descriptions, these sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings of the pirates' life at sea and their life ashore. Susan Cason has beautifully captured the dramas and dilemmas, the twists and turns of Tom's journey to become accepted as one of the pirate crew. The pirates' life is a sanitised one, skimming over their darker pleasures, taverns, women and mayhem.This is a wonderful fast-paced read; it would make a great class novel for Years 4-6.
This novel is highly recommended for 9-11 year old confident readers. Scholastic teaching notes are available.
Rhyllis Bignell

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