CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 12. . . .November 21, 2014
Missy, (Mairi), a 13-year-old orphan, is in a hurry to fulfil her dream of owning her own ‘land-ship’ and becoming a certified salvaging ‘pirate’. She is not prepared to let either her hearing loss or other circumstances not within her control stand in her way. Having left her adoptive ‘pirate’ family in Nova Scotia, she is desperate to complete her apprenticeship with the T.H.U.G.S. (Treasure Hunters & Useful Goods Salvagers Society). When she understands the necessary work terms could be seriously delayed (“another year of not being a certified scrapper”), she enters into an apparently underhanded deal with the boss of the T.H.U.G.S. union. Missy will receive a fast-tracked probationary status if she can find and report on a group of fellow pirates. These are the Griffons, a pirate crew like her own, but one that went rogue years before.
Summoning up all her resources, both innate and learned, Missy overcomes many obstacles in order to become part of their team. Soon she is forced into rethinking her own purpose and beliefs. As she observes them going about their self-appointed mission of sabotaging pipelines to preserve the environment, she realises that what others perceive as illegal now seems so right.
Flight of the Griffons, the sequel to The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods, is a powerful and quite complicated read with many nuances and subtleties. For the most part, it is all the more worthwhile for that. However, for this reader, who had not read The Dread Crew, there was much initial confusion. One was launched into the story, as if one had a contextual understanding of the plot, the concept of salvage pirating and the profusion of characters, many of whom feature in the first book. But, by having persevered through the complexities of the first few chapters, the book suddenly became magical. Perversely, once I knew where I was with the story, I found that part of the book’s appeal is that the author pays her readers the compliment of never talking down to them or over-explaining
Flight of the Griffons is much more than an adventure story as it examines the conflict of right over wrong, makes readers see environmental issues with an immediacy that hits home and, most of all, the character of Missy and her fellow pirates gives readers faith in the tenacity and goodness of human nature. If you like technical detail and invention, you will like this book. If you enjoy books about human interaction, this is the book for you. If you like to see men and women going about their lives with no boundaries as to roles, this book is great. If you love the vastness and variation of the Canadian landscape captured in short sharp brush-strokes, don’t miss this book! The writing style is taut, crisp and, in places, overpoweringly beautiful. Inglis is able to convey words of wisdom and deep emotion at the same time as she is able to move the story along at a good pace.
The full-page black and white illustrations by artist Sydney Smith which preface each chapter are replete with rich detail and emotion, complementing and adding to the atmosphere of the tale. A delightful addition are portraits of the crew of the Griffon on the front end-page, and the reader can happily flip back and forth putting faces to names. Flight of the Griffons could be read as a stand-alone, but to have read the first one in the series would make it even more satisfying! So buy both volumes!! It is a meaningful and exciting read for those aged 10 to 14, but younger children would enjoy it as a read-aloud.
Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian living in Toronto, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.