Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My twin boys are eleven and when we finished reading the last Harry Potter book two years ago I had been reading the series aloud to them chapter-by-chapter since they turned six. We needed a tiny break. Somehow that break stretched as they were strong independent readers by that point and I had their little sister to accommodate at bedtime. I now have MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT to thank for getting us back into the read-aloud groove and showing me (and them) that they’re never too old for bedtime stories. This time we included their sister and all of us piled onto one bed each night.
MAGIC was the perfect read-aloud, with plenty of excitement and adventure and tons of giggle-worthy moments for us to share. Hilary Westfield is a proper High Society girl who longs for nothing more than to leave it all behind for life as a pirate on the High Seas (picture a younger Rose from Titanic, though in this case Hilary’s father, the Admiral, is the unaccommodating dolt). She is denied membership to the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates because she is of the female persuasion and forced instead to Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies, complete with fainting lessons and dancing sheep embroidered logos. Of course, Hilary is a determined heroine, and thus escapes Miss Pimm’s and secures a pirate gig aboard The Pigeon, captained by no less that the Scourge of the Southlands. Trouble is, her governess insists on accompanying her, as does her talking gargoyle and her youthful rival, who just might be a spy for her father. Together the ragtag group of “pirates” search for buried treasure of the magical variety in a land where the good guys aren’t always so good and the bad guys aren’t actually that bad.
Overall, this is an adorable read, in the vein of The Band of Misfit Pirates movie. I thought a lot of the humor referenced Monty Python and Wallace and Gromit and I loved the quirky, tongue in cheek letters at the end of each chapter. My kids picked up on the dry humor in most places, though their favorite parts were the sword fights, of course! This is one adults will enjoy as much as kids and it has a wonderful “girls can do anything they set their minds to message” to boot! I will add that my boys are very sensitive at the moment about reading “girl books” and none of us considered this one, despite the female main character.
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