Yo Ho Ho!
School’s just started and already you’re thinking of running away to sea to get away from it all?
Don’t do it, finish your education and then think about a seafaring life. (You didn’t really think that a librarian was going to encourage you to run away did you?) In the meantime, when it’s time for your brain to take a break, here are some wonderfully adventurous sea stories about some bold and resourceful heroes and heroines who triumph over deadly danger. Plus these are adventures that you can enjoy without chance of seasickness or weevils in your biscuits.
First the classic not to be left off anyone’s list: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. There are lots of choices to pick from and plenty of adaptations but there’s nothing that can beat the original story. My favorite print version is a reprint of the 1911 edition with pictures by N.C. Wyeth. An excellent audio version is the one read by Alfred Molina, and my favorite adaptation is Muppet Treasure Island. It’s a silly, but even so, I don’t think any actor has captured both the charm and the menace of Long John Silver the way actor Tim Curry does.
Another exciting pirate tale is The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes. Instead of finding a treasure map, Philip Marsham has to escape because of an unfortunate accident. He’s forced to become a pirate when they take over his ship. Then when the pirates are caught, he’s nearly hanged as one of them!
But enough about pirates. What about the people who keep us safe from them and other badly behaved seafarers? Let’s turn to the Royal Navy and the stories of Jacky Farber, which start in Bloody Jack: being an account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer. Like Philip, Mary Faber is an orphan on the streets of London. She decides that her best chance of getting a good steady meal is to join the navy. So she signs on as a ship’s boy with the H.M.S. Dolphin, neglecting to tell the other members of the crew that she really isn’t a boy. As time goes on this causes her some problems.
Another look at the Royal Navy is in Susan Cooper’s time-traveling tale Victory in which a girl from the twenty-first century suddenly finds herself sharing the experience of a ship’s boy at the battle of Trafalgar in 1803. And if you like these last two talkes, you’ll probably also enjoy The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. It’s about another young lady who makes the best of a very bad situation at sea.
When the sea breezes have refreshed your mind, you’ll be in a calm and studious state to tackle your math homework and become as famous as Nathaniel Bowdich. Carry on!