A swashbuckling tale of thievery and revenge
The Giant Rat of Sumatra is the most notorious pirate ship in the Pacific. Its ferocious figurehead, a rat with crooked teeth and gouged-out eyes, strikes fear in the heart of every seafaring crew. Now the ship has dropped anchor in San Diego. Twelve-year-old cabin boy Shipwreck -- so named after he was rescued from the sea by the pirates -- is anxious to begin his long journey home to Boston. Instead, he finds himself swept up in a treacherous plot. It seems his adventure is only just beginning. . . .
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Sid Fleischman wrote more than sixty books for children, adults, and magicians. Among his many awards was the Newbery Medal for his novel The Whipping Boy. The author described his wasted youth as a magician and newspaperman in his autobiography The Abracadabra Kid. His other titles include The Entertainer and the Dybbuk, a novel, and three biographies, Sir Charlie: Chaplin, The Funniest Man in the World; The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West; and Escape! The Story of The Great Houdini.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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