December 30, 2011

Little Jane Silver

by Adira Rotstein
268 pp.
Ages 9-14

The yarns that Long John Silver the Second and Adira Rotstein weave are the rich tales told before roaring fires on winter's nights, when the seas are too cold for pirating and the coffers too empty for shopping.  They're stories of heroes and villains, kindness and treachery, gentle rocking and violent swordfighting.  Luckily for readers, Rotstein's stories are meant solely to entertain and will not result in the inadequate education that Little Jane Silver may endure courtesy of her father's tongue.

Of course, Little Jane Silver is in rapture of her father's story-telling, just as she adores her parents, Captains Long John Silver the Second and Bonnie Mary Bright, as they do their only child.  Little Jane (how she despises that inescapable moniker) hungrily absorbs the details of their pirate lives in hopeful preparation for her anticipated entry into the family business.  During the cold, rainy season, Little Jane lives at her family's inn, the Spyglass, at Smuggler's Bay.  But during the warms months, she joins them and their crew on the Pieces of Eight, pirating, smuggling and hiding loot on the cursed Nameless Isle (actually only her parents are able to hide the loot without harm).

At age twelve, however, Little Jane realizes that she isn't regarded as a pirate to be respected or feared and she begins her training by making observations in her journal, How to be a Good Pirate, as advised by the ship's cook, Ishiro.  Unfortunately, Jane's observation skills earn her the directed wrath of the boatswain, Ned Ronk, whose intimidation and mutinous attitude will ultimately separate Little Jane from her parents and put their lives and happy family in danger.

Adira Rotstein balances the language and jargon of pirates with the subtle humour that affords the text the lightness to scoot the story into a high-seas adventure.  When Little Jane's fencing tutor is described as "upper crust" (pg. 69), the young girl suggests that it would be more fun to be the fruit filling.  Even a misunderstanding about her father by nasty Charity and Felicity ("cannibal" for "cannonball"), when Little Jane tells them that "a cursed cannonball chewed off his foot" (pg. 246), results in Little Jane declaring, "how could I be the daughter of a cannonball? Ain't anyone ever told you babies don't come from cannons? Artillery's got nothing to do with it"(pg 246).  Yet the depth of feelings demonstrated by Little Jane and her parents for each other is very clear, ultimately leading Long John Silver the Second to declare that they would survive so that he might tell Little Jane his true story and Little Jane promising to find her parents.  Sadly, the reader will need to wait until the next book in this series,  Little Jane Silver and the Nameless Isle, comes out in September, 2012 to learn the fates of Little Jane, Long John Silver the Second and Bonnie Mary Bright, as masterminded by the friend-turned-foe, Fetz.


  1. Dear Helen,
    Thanks for your review of my book! It is without a doubt the best review I've ever read of it. You seemed to grasp everything that was important to me about writing it and I loved your use of language too. Thanks ever so much! Would you like me to send you book number 2 gratis? I'd be happy to, just send me your address. Your appreciative author,

  2. Dear Helen,
    Thanks so much for your excellent review of my book! It is without a doubt the best I've read about anything I've written. I was so flattered to read it. You have a wonderful gift with language and sum up the book with succinct elegance. Most importantly I really felt you understood what I was trying to achieve in balancing the humour with the characterization and how the love the characters have for each other should come through to the read. Thank you so much for making me feel I achieved what I set out to do with the story. If you would like to read the second book, I'd be delighted to send it to you gratis if you'd send me your address.
    Your most appreciative author,
    Adira Rotstein