Have you ever wondered how a ship could get into a bottle – especially a ship with masts? Well, you are about to find out, though this may not be the main point of the story.
Jack is ten, his home a farm. He longs for adventure; his head filled the tales of pirates, action and treasure. He becomes a cabin boy on board a ship. Then – the storm. Jack finds himself the sole survivor washed up on a deserted island with only a giant tortoise for company. But then Jack meets Robinson, who has been living there for nineteen years! Despite the friendship that develops, Jack longs to get home – but how? Determination, imagination – and the help of a magic potion might make it possible. However, it will be a journey fraught with danger – storms, sharks – and a pirate called Bad Bob.
Wormell is a master storyteller. This is a story to share, to read aloud at bedtime or to a class or just to yourself. The voice is direct; short, sharp, simple constructions allied to longer descriptive moments. There are also references to raise a smile of recognition for the adult reader, or encourage a younger reader to explore further. It is refreshing to meet such a positive adult in the character of Robinson, while Jack is a very real boy whose reactions to his predicament are entirely believable. There are plenty of practical details to enjoy (or not) but Wormell then adds the excitement of imagination and the leavening of humour; a magic potion which can shrink you (there is an antidote) and a crew of pirates who are satisfyingly nasty. Adding another dimension to the text are Wormell’s masterly illustrations and page decorations – line drawings in ink – highlighting details, anchoring a scene, but doing so subtly without the distraction of colour. Indeed the whole production is excellent sure to encourage adventurous children to open the covers and set sail.