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Castaways of the Flying Dutchman
ISBN 0399236015 / 9780399236013 / 0-399-23601-5
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Fans of the Redwall series eager to sink their teeth into the latest adventure from Brian Jacques will be surprised to find that the cover of Castaways of the Flying Dutchman belies the contents of this fine mystery novel. A handsome young lad, sporting a billowing, ripped shirt, gazes off into the distance, while behind him a ship founders on an eerily tempestuous sea. It's true, the first (brief) section of the book does tell the tale of a stowaway orphan on the legendary, ill-fated ship, the Flying Dutchman. And that's as swashbuckling a story as they come. But as soon as the boy and his newly adopted dog are tossed into the sea during a ferocious storm, the book takes a sharp turn. Ben and his dog, Ned, given eternal life by a sympathetic angel, now set out to "bring confidence and sympathy, help others to change their fate." Two centuries later, they arrive in the village of Chapelvale, which is filled with quirky, affectionate citizens, who immediately welcome the mysterious but kindhearted and brave boy and his dog. The impending destruction of their village by the blustering, bloated Obadiah Smithers, an industrial speculator, propels Ben and his new friends into a thrilling search for a solution, involving ancient Byzantine gold chalices, mysterious coded messages, and some fierce tête-à-têtes with hired bullies. Illustrator Ian Schoenherr's intriguing line drawings at the beginning of each chapter hint at the upcoming clues to the mystery. Redwall fans be warned: you'll find no warrior mice here. But readers will find a satisfying story that never leaves a doubt as to the ability of good to triumph over evil. (Ages 9 to 12) -- Emilie Coulter [via]