CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 32. . . .April 22, 2011
Little Jane Silver. (Little Jane Silver Adventure).
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2011.
268 pp., pbk., $12.99.
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.
Review by Alicia Cheng.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
"Do you know to whom you speak, sir?" she demanded, blasting the impudent gentleman with such a show of contempt she wondered that he didn't shrink into the very folds of the fabric he sold.
The merchant remained unfazed. "A girl in pants," he said smirking. "And dirty, patched pants at that."
"I," said Little Jane, "am a crew member of the Pieces of Eight. The most frightsome ship to sail the seven seas! The buccaneer scourge of the Royal Navy! The piratical colossus of the ocean ties! The Minotaur in the maze of the naval brigade! The jewel in the belly of the titan of –"
An odd sound made Little Jane stop in the middle of her speech. She listened, with growing confusion. She opened her mouth to speak again, but the sound continued.
Now, Little Jane had heard many unpleasant sounds in her life, but neither the crack of a beam of wood as it connected with the head of a hapless ship's carpenter, nor the shriek of a purser's mate when a parcel of gunpowder exploded in his hand, had so much power over her as the sound she now heard.
Can you guess, gentle reader, what the sound was?
It was laughter. The fabric seller was laughing and he was he was laughing at her.
Little Jane is the 12-year-old granddaughter of the famous pirate, Long John Silver from Treasure Island. With Little Jane's coming from a line of pirate ancestry, you'd never imagine that she has never encountered any pirating action before. Living on the pirate ship, Pieces of Eight, which is owned by her parents, Captain Long John Silver II and Captain Bonnie Mary Bright, Little Jane becomes increasingly frustrated as everyone on deck treats her as a young child. Wanting to be taking seriously, Little Jane tries to prove herself as a real pirate, but all her plans backfire.
The episode from the excerpt is one of Little Jane's first attempts to be treated as a real pirate. However, instead of instilling fear into the villagers, they laugh at her because of her young age and petite size. This failed attempt deeply affects Little Jane's mood as she wants to feel like she is a part of the Pieces of Eight, and not just there because of her parents. She knows that the crew members do not think that she belongs. Thus, she tries harder to show them that she belongs to and has the ability to stay on the ship.
Little Jane finally has the chance to prove herself as a real pirate when the Pieces of Eight is being chased by a mysterious pursuer. She tries to alert the crew of a planned sabotage that takes place on the ship, but no one believes her. When the truth finally comes out and the betrayer discovered, it's already too late for Captain Long John Silver II, Captain Bonnie Mary Bright, and the rest of the crew to save the Pieces of Eight. Little Jane is now on her own. As she ventures onto a dangerous quest, Little Jane must somehow find a way to save her family and the Pieces of Eight from a horrible fate.
Little Jane Silver takes the reader through Little Jane's emotional journey, showing her coming of age and growth to becoming someone who must make her own decisions and not live under her parents' protection. Little Jane is, nevertheless, a depiction of other children who want to be treated as an adult. Adira Rotstein cleverly uses Treasure Island as a background to creating this new tale about a little girl who must quickly grow up because of the dangers that surround her ancestry. Although some parts of the tale were slow at times, Little Jane Silver was still an enjoyable read.
Alicia Cheng is a Children's Librarian at Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.
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