December 11, 2012

Jane Silver, girl pirate

Little Jane Silver
by Adira Rotstein (Dundurn Press)

Little Jane Silver is the twelve year-old granddaughter of notorious Treasure Island pirate Long John Silver. Growing up on the Pieces of Eight, the pirate ship of her parents, Captains Bonnie Mary Bright and Long John Silver II, Little Jane is increasingly frustrated with being thrust below decks whenever any real pirating action takes place. Wanting to prove herself, she tries to take a more active role onboard, but finds herself running afoul of traitorous Ned Ronk. 

Ned manages to turn the crew against her, which is a bit surprising since Jane pretty well grew up on the Pieces of Eight and Ned was only hired on later. You'd expect her to have more allies. Anyway, before Jane can warn her parents about Ned, he leads them into an ambush. The Pieces of Eight is destroyed, her parents captured, and Jane barely escapes with her life. 

Rotstein has crafted a promising adventure tale with hints of more to come. The only drawback is the novel's shifting perspectives - Little Jane's, her father's, a magistrate's, a doctor's - and their extensive background stories. It takes the focus away from Little Jane, and makes you wonder when she'll actually get to do something. To find out, you'll have to read the next book, since the story is deliberately left unfinished.

Little Jane and the Nameless Isle

In the continuing tale of Little Jane Silver, pirate hunter Fetzcaro Madsea and his crew have taken Long John and Bonnie Mary prisoner. Madsea's forcing the pirates to guide them across the Nameless Isle, hoping to steal their treasure. To stall him, Long John and Bonnie Mary use their secret knowledge of the island’s dangers to thin out their foes. Meanwhile, Little Jane, with a bit of help, rushes to the rescue. 

Rotstein's sequel is a great improvement on the first Little Jane adventure. This time, Jane takes a much more active role, finding her voice and the courage to save her parents. The violence is more severe this time out, though Rotstein holds back from actually dispatching her victims. Readers will be disappointed that Madsea doesn't meet a more gruesome fate. 

Little Jane and the Nameless Isle is a better, more satisfying read than Little Jane Silver. But together, the two books make for a rollicking adventure that will appeal to all lovers of pirates, pterodactyls, and seekers of treasure.

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