Audie Award Finalist, Children's Titles for Ages 8-12, 2014
Admiral Westfield sucked in his breath and released it in a tremendous gust. "My dear," he said, "let me be clear: You are a young lady. You will not tell silly tales and you will never be a pirate."
Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for 37 minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors. She particularly enjoys defying authority, and she already owns a rather pointy sword. There's only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.
Girls belong at Miss Pimm's Finishing School for Delicate Ladies, learning to waltz, faint, and curtsy. But Hilary and her dearest friend, the gargoyle, have no use for such frivolous lessons - they are pirates! (Or very nearly.)
To escape from a life of petticoats and politeness, Hilary answers a curious advertisement for a pirate crew and suddenly finds herself swept up in a seafaring adventure that may or may not involve a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn't exist, a rogue governess who insists on propriety, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous - and unexpected - villain on the High Seas.
Will Hilary find the treasure in time? Will she become a true pirate after all? And what will become of the gargoyle?
©2013 Caroline Carslon (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
The Audible production narrated by Katherine Kellgren is delightfully dramatic and deliciously funny. I'm sure I would have enjoyed the book alone, but listening to the perfectly over-the-top characterizations enhanced the story greatly. Though this is a middle grades book, any person who enjoys humorous fantasy will likely enjoy this. It uses familiar tropes, but with new and creative variations, and tells a fine yarn along the way. It is appropriately G rated, though with scenes of tension and drama, and a remarkable lack of bumbling idiocy by anyone.
The Kindle edition has minor chapter head illustrations only and I didn't really need it to enjoy the story fully, though it does have an excerpt from the next book at the end.
I would compare this in general feel to the Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom and the less known, but quite enjoyable, My Sparkling Misfortune.
This is truly the funniest book I have read in years! The characters are engaging and sympathetic. Every one is over-the-top and quirky in their own way.
Our heroine Hilary is a plucky girl with a pet gargoyle who is the daughter of an admiral in the Augustan fleet. She wants to become a pirate instead of going to Miss Pimm's Finishing School for Delicate Ladies.
The story is interspersed with excerpts from the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates (the VNHLP, serving the high seas for 152 years) Handbook and letters written by Hilary, her friends, the Queen of Augusta and many others. They're always funny.
From Hilary: "I should mention that your information regarding my appearance is not entirely accurate. First, I am not wide-eyed. Thanks to the interminable lessons delivered in a tortuous monotone by my governess, my eyes are frequently closed. Second, I am not a young man but a young woman. ...
We are pirates. We are not easily horrified. We have seen shipwrecks. We have seen sword fights. We have seen men eaten by crocodiles and crocodiles eaten by men. We have on occasion hung skeletons from trees. None of these things horrifies us in the least.
Your letter, however, is another matter! ... No woman, young or otherwise, may join our league. ...if there is one thing upon which the VNHLP and the Royal Navy can agree, it is this: permitting girls to prance about on the high seas would be entirely undignified. Under normal circumstances, we would of course require you to walk the plank. However, our code of piracy does not permit us to treat young women in such a fashion. So we will be generous. ...
With shock and consternation,
Membership Coordinator, VNHLP
... I assure you that I will walk the plank a thousand times into cold and shark-infested waters before I will attend Miss Pimm's!
(really quite furious with you)"
Hilary answers an ad from a freelance pirate hoping to get a job on his ship. As to what happens next, suffice to say that there is a reason that Hilary and hilarity differ only slightly.
The narrator (Katherine Kellgren) is a gem and absolutely perfect for this story. She expresses sarcasm, wit and earnestness with equal zest. Her English accent adds just the right flavor. I have to find out who beat her out for the Audie in this category because I can't imagine why she lost!
I graduated from third grade decades ago but I still found this story to be thoroughly enjoyable and look eagerly for its sequel. Any child who can follow and enjoy chapter books should love this book as well.
Katherine Kellgren gives a wonderful performance as she narrates this tale of the high seas. It was a pure delight!
Hard to pick just one and not give away the story. Hillary leaving to join the Very Nearly Honorable League got me hooked, but the adventure continued.
Her different voices for the characters.
Spunky heroine take sail!
So much silliness!
Her gargoyle was a great addition; love the novelty of a traveling gargoyle.
Such a range of wonderfully unique and funny voice makes this story SO much better than when read in the book. Crazy, silly, funny characters are completely experienced when K.K. does them!
Not required, you can stop and pick up later without losing out on the enjoyment.
Thank you for two of my favorites in one book: Magic and Pirates!
I love Katherine Kellgren's other narrations, so thought I would give this new kid's series a shot. What an enjoyable read! I took it to the gym and had to grit my teeth to keep from laughing out loud throughout. Can't wait to get a copy for my niece - I know she will love it as well.
Absolutely. Just a nice story. Fun to listen to, and I would recommend Katherine Kellgren any day!
Katherine Kellgren's many voices. She is always superb!
I can't remember exactly. I smiled and giggled all the way through.
No, it was just fun!
I listened to the audio version, as I do a LOT of driving. KK's performance is truly a delight to hear. CC's writing is superb, and I did not want the story to end.
I anxiously await #2 in this piratical series!
Hillary. I have a soft spot in my heart for a tough girl with a conscience.
The character's voices are superb!
Very good. Can't wait for the next one.
Greatly told and silly,
Hillary Westfield has to be the greatest character of all time
This was a captivating story from the beginning. Hillary is quite the pirate or so she hopes. I think I would like to pass up finishing school for her adventures too. Some of them were quite unexpected. Loved it!
smart, well written, amazing performance, great girl character, lovely sense of humor. highly recommended. looking forward to the sequel.
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