Saturday, August 2, 2008

Woolies and Worms by Stephen MacNeil

Main Character: Eleven-year-old Sarah Tufts, a governor's daughter
Location: A small, uncharted island
Time period: When pirates ruled the seas
Genre: J Fiction, Adventure, Humor

Sarah and her father are sailing from England to the colonies where her father will become governor. Along the way, they are attacked by pirates and Sarah is swept overboard. She washes up on a small island inhabited almost entirely by young children. They have been kidnapped by the pirates as babies and raised by the evil Mr. Grim who uses them to weave brightly colored woolen rugs which have become very popular all over the world. Now before you start thinking of sweat shops, let me tell you that their method of weaving these rugs is a cross between an exercise class and dancing around the maypole. The children are relatively happy with their life--mostly because it is all they have ever known. Then Sarah, with her knowledge of the outside world, grown-ups, and fathers, upsets the status quo on the island.

I found the word play in this book delightful. Sarah has picked up some of the pirates' colorful curses--alliterative phrases like "Hippos and haberdashers!" or "Chinchillas and chinaware." The children on the island, not having been taught the queen's English, have developed their own language--cheeks high or corners up for smile, the long blink for sleep.

Though there are incidents that could be fraught with danger--Sarah being swept into the ocean, the evil Mr. Grim threatening to lower children into shark-infested waters--the tone of the story is light-hearted and you are never in doubt that things will end happily.

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