Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas – at a glance
The School Reading Lists’ five word review: gender, class, family relationships, reconciliation.
Children’s book title: Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas.
Children’s author: Anna Rainbow and Oli Hyatt.
Genre: Chapter book middle grade fiction.
Published by: Chicken House.
Recommended for children aged: 9-12.
First published: Paperback June 2021.
This children’s book is ideal for: Upper Key Stage 2 and lower Key Stage 3 independent readers.
To see the latest price or order, click on the book cover image.
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”
– Sea Fever by John Masefield, 1902
If John Masefield’s words, with their invitation to exploration and adventure, strike a chord and if just occasionally, almost for no apparent reason, you have the urge to taste the salt of the sea and watch the waves break somewhere far from home, then you are going to love this book.
The book’s seafaring credentials are established early in the first chapter as the authors capture the atmosphere of a busy port at sunset:
“…the trio passed the smaller boats where crews lounged on upturned barrels, the stink of sweat and vino sec hanging around them like a swarm of flies. They reached the port where they were dipped in shadow by the larger galleons and swept up by the bustle of brawny, sea-worn men lugging sacks of sugar cane and cochineal.”
One of the trio is Antigua de Fortune, or Tiggy as she is known to everyone except her parents. Tiggy is the daughter of a high ranking officer and a lady of distinction on the Isles of Fortune, and her parents have high hopes for her future as they try to engineer marriage opportunities in polite society for her. As a high – born young lady Tiggy is expected to wear dresses, comb her hair into fashionable styles, attend balls and so attract the attention of eligible young men. In short, she is expected to conform. But Tiggy is having none of it. The sea is in Tiggy’s blood and she dreams of adventures on the ocean and not of domesticity on the land.
The first four chapters are devoted to very safe scene and character setting, early ‘Treasure Island‘ territory, but chapter five introduces us to Clara a mermaid who has been captured, imprisoned and tortured by the Pirates and their evil King who are soon going to kidnap all the boys of Haven – including Tiggy’s brother. Tiggy has to save the boys before the eclipse of the bloodmoon and we now enter the realms of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ with the rather more sinister elements of Peter Pan’s Captain Hook and Lost Boys thrown into the mix. The book now alternates between the voices and perspectives of Tiggy and Clara and as the fight between good and evil becomes more intense the authors treat us to the twists and turns of an ocean-based roller coaster ride.
As well as exploring the themes of good and evil and love and hate, the book examines issues of gender and class expectations and family relationships and reconciliation. But most important of all the book is a great adventure story – engaging, fast moving and loads of fun. The book finishes with more than just a hint of future adventures:
“There be adventures to be had on them there high seas….and with the promise of adventures in its sails, the lure of mystery creaking in its hull, the great galleon began to move towards the ocean.”
Finally the book’s excellent cover illustration by Paola Escobar deserves to be mentioned. Tiggy is calm and poised as the wild sea, with its attendant pirate ships, treasure chests, skeletons and giant squid, rages all around her:
“Yo ho ho” the crew roared, fists punching the air. “Yo ho ho” the ocean replied ”. So let’s raise a glass of grog to Tiggy and her next adventure.
Click here to read an extract of Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas by Anna Rainbow and Oli Hyatt
Many thanks to Chicken House Books for the review copy.
If you like Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas by Anna Rainbow and Oli Hyatt you might also like: our pirate books for children list, Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince by Liz Kessler, Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard’s Secret by Claire Barker, Thunderbolt by Wilbur Smith with Chris Wakling and The Pearl in the Ice by Cathryn Constable.
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