Review Blog

Nov 30 2018

Whitebeard by M. C. D. Etheridge

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Flash Knight, 2018. ISBN 9780648359005
(Age: 8-10) Themes: Pirates, Christmas, Fantasy. Whitebeard is a fantastical mix of pirates, derring-do acts, fights on the High Seas and has a motley cast of characters with Captain Whitebeard at the helm. This madcap adventure is fast-paced, overflowing with Christmas references and plenty of piratical plundering.
Captain Whitebeard is the fiercest pirate on the High Seas, his ship Rudolph's Revenge is crewed by seven tough men Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, as well as one feisty female Vixen. Just before Christmas, they use sneaky disguises to board a Spanish galleon, fight the crew and seize all the booty, gold and jewellery. Underneath his tough exterior, Whitebeard shows kindness when he releases the slaves chained up on board. One of those released is Gretchen the evil witch who uses her large emerald Green Envy to cast spells and cause major problems.
Compounding their problems even more, is Captain Jack Frost who's pursuing his archenemy Whitebeard. He lost the sight in one eye during a ruthless fight. Onboard the Frostbite are twelve zombified mummies with blades instead of limbs; these Swiss Army Knives dressed as Swiss Guards are primed to cut down Whitebeard and his crew.
Etheridge keeps up a fast pace, adding so many side plots, dreams, poems, sea shanties, extra characters and settings to the mix. The descriptive narrative is filled with alliteration, tongue twisters - 'powder monkeys trained for peanuts' and 'freebooting French filibusters'! Be prepared for singing mermaids who've lost their children and the evil trolls who've captured them ready for a tasty meal. He includes many festive signs including a special robin who guides Whitebeard's decisions and a dream of his childhood and first love Mary who also tells him the right way to live. The author's historical references jump over two centuries from the Great Fire of London, to the Age of Pirates and then to optometrists! Olivia Ong's graphic line drawings add to the drama and excitement of Whitebeard.
Rhyllis Bignell

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