Captain Hook’s feisty daughter hits the high seas to avenge her father’s death at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile in Heidi Schulz’s spirited middle-grade debut.
Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn’s hopes of following in her father’s fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink.
So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn’t hesitate-here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she’d bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland’s most fearsome beast isn’t enough to deal with, she’s tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited.
The crocodile’s clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz’s debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?
I’ve said it on this blog and I’ve said it a million times elsewhere…I love Peter Pan stories. Thank goodness for authors like Heidi Schulz who keep Neverland alive in the hearts and minds of so many.
This story was everything I thought it would be and more. Jocelyn is a finishing school’s nightmare with her love of bugs and snakes, her hatred of personal grooming and the fact that her nose is always in a book. But she is the perfect heroine for the reader to travel with to seek revenge for her hook-handed father.
As much as I loved Jocelyn and came into the story expecting her to be the narrator, the Lemony-Snicket-esque narrator that Schulz has created is brilliant. I was seriously laughing the whole time. He hates kids, but since he’s the Hook expert, he feels he has to tell this story. Just so funny. I also loved the interactions between Jocelyn and her best friend, Roger. So funny and they played off of each other like a good sitcom script.
I really enjoyed the cameos that Schulz added into the story. Tiger Lily, the Lost Boys, Mr. Smee (my fave) and even the beloved Peter Pan (although he’s kinda crazy and controlling this time around) all make an appearance in the story.
I love the theme from JM Barrie’s Peter Pan of being afraid to grow up. Because when you grow up, things change. But then on the flip-side, you still want to be able to do all the things grown-ups do. You want to be like your parents. Or in Jocelyn’s case, her father, Captain Hook himself.
Schulz follows this theme of growing up throughout and subtly imparts the message that growing up is okay. Some things will be different, but sometimes, some things, are able to stay the same. Even though I was literally laughing out loud the whole time, the ending nearly had me in tears. Okay, it had me in tears, but I’ll blame the pregnancy hormones.
This was just such a well-rounded, fast-paced adventure novel that I hope my kids will read over and over again. I know I will.