When Mabel Jones went to bed one fateful night and performed ‘The Deed’ (nose picking and eating the results) she did not expect to find herself immediately ‘bagged’ by a child catcher and taken on board The Feroshus Maggot, a pirate ship to join the crew. There she has to prove herself; for what use is a mere girl, a ‘female human snuglet’ to a band of desperate pirates even if she has passed the nose picking initiation test with flying colours? Mabel survives the greasy pole of certain death and most importantly uses her skills in reading and deduction to reveal a secret list of pirates holding a piece of the missing cross, key to finding and unlocking untold treasure. This is what Idryss Ebeneezer Split, captain of the pirate ship (a fearsome wolf with a false leg) has been seeking.
Thus begins a quest story with our heroine Mabel Jones right at the centre of it. Equipped with a cutlass and the assurance that ‘she is Mabel Jones and not scared of anything’ her adventure takes her from the wild western sea to the haunted seventh sea, to caverns, castles and crypts along the way and even inside the belly of a whale.
This is a fast paced adventure story with witty language. I love the name of the silent loris child catcher Omynus Hussh. There is bathos in the description of this character who becomes an unlikely friend for Mabel and there is lots of humour throughout the writing. Asides to the reader and the excellent drawings by Ross Collins add to the fun.
Children will enjoy poring over the treasure map and may be inspired to make one too, write messages in invisible ink or create their own who’s who of pirates.