A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Violence & Scariness
Fighting, accidental death of a child with blood mentioned, a sea battle, pirates murder, sailors are eaten by sharks, mentions of slitting a stomach and of limbs being cut off by ropes on a ship.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Barkbelly, a child, drinks and gets tipsy. Adults drink, smoke, and chew tobacco.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are a few scenes of fighting, including a battle with swords in which blood is mentioned; some sailors fall from the battle to sharks waiting below; and a child is accidentally killed in a playground mishap when his head hits the ground, with blood also mentioned. Also, several times Barkbelly, about 10, is given alcohol by adults, which seems to be common in the world of the book, and gets briefly tipsy.
Is It Any Good?
Like Barkbelly himself, this book is not quite like anything else you've read. Reading the flap copy you might be tempted to think it's a Pinocchio variation, but aside from being about a wooden boy on a journey, they're not much alike.
Storyteller and first-time author Cat Weatherill has a unique imagination, and she puts it to work with a light touch on the fantasy elements, some lyrical language, and a picaresque journey through a fascinating world. It's an unfortunate surprise, then, that after displaying such deft handling of her unusual story, the author resorts to a deus ex machina to magically resolve the story into a too-pat ending. But this doesn't dampen the pleasure of the rest of the book, and Weatherill partially makes up for it by including a delightful little fable as an epilogue.
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Our Editors Recommend
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