From Publishers Weekly
"I prays for deliverance," confides Mary Faber, orphaned at eight years old by a pestilence that relegates her to a life of begging and petty crime on the streets of London. After her gang's leader is killed, she dons his clothing, trading in the name Mary for Jack, and takes to the high seas aboard the HMS Dolphin. Meyer evokes life in the 18th-century Royal Navy with Dickensian flair. He seamlessly weaves into Jacky's first-person account a wealth of historical and nautical detail at a time when pirates terrorized the oceans. Interspersed are humorous asides about her ongoing struggle to maintain "The Deception" (she fashions herself a codpiece and emulates the "shake-and-wiggle action" of the other boys when pretending to use the head, for instance), she earns her titular nickname in a clash with pirates and survives a brief stretch as a castaway before her true identity is discovered (the book ends as she's about to be shipped off to a school for young ladies in Boston). The narrative's dialect occasionally falters, but this detracts only slightly from the descriptive prose ("He's got muscles like a horse and looks to have a brain to match") and not at all from the engine driving this sprawling yarn: the spirited heroine's wholly engaging voice. Her budding sexuality (which leads to a somewhat flawed plotline involving a secret shipboard romance) and a near-rape by a seaman mark this one for older readers, who will find the salty tale a rattling good read. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-8-With the plague running rampant in London in 1797, Mary's parents and sister are soon counted among the dead. Left alone and penniless, the eight-year-old is taken in by a gang of orphans and learns survival skills. However, when their leader is killed, Mary decides to try her luck elsewhere. She strips the dead body, cuts her hair, renames herself Jack Faber, and is soon employed as a ship's boy on the HMS Dolphin. When the vessel sees its first skirmish with a pirate ship, her bravery saves her friend Jaimy and earns her the nickname "Bloody Jack." Told by Mary/Jack in an uneven dialect that sometimes doesn't ring true, the story weaves details of life aboard the Dolphin. Readers see how she changes her disguise based on her own physical changes and handles the "call of nature," her first experiences with maturation, and the dangers to boys from unscrupulous crew members. The protagonist's vocabulary, her appearance and demeanor, and her desire to be one of the boys and do everything they do without complaint complete the deception. This story also shows a welcome slant to this genre with an honorable, albeit strict Captain, and ship's mates who are willing and able teachers. If readers are looking for a rousing, swashbuckling tale of pirates and adventures on the high seas, this title falls short. However, it is a good story of a brave ship's "boy" with natural leadership abilities and a sense of fair play and humanity.Kit Vaughan, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the