A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Deadweather and Sunrise is the first installment in a swashbuckling adventure trilogy set in a Caribbean island chain in a somewhat alternate universe. It's long on peculiar humor and the gross-out factor, as well as random violence at odd moments. Egg is often physically abused by his siblings, there's assorted pirate mayhem, at one point the children are attacked, the pirate captain punishes one of his crew by throwing the man overboard, and pirates almost force themselves on Millicent before Egg finds a way to stop them. All the pirates have missing body parts, resulting in endless amputee jokes and sight gags. While this may delight some readers, for others it will interfere with their appreciation of an intriguing plot and promising characters.
What's the story?
Egbert leads a miserable existence as the youngest son of a plantation owner on a grim, pirate-infested Caribbean island, where he's routinely abused by his older siblings. On Egbert's 13th birthday, his father takes the unaccountable notion to pack up the whole family to visit the glittering playground island of Sunrise, and events rapidly turn in unexpected directions. First, father and siblings disappear in a presumably fatal accident; then it becomes clear that Egbert himself is a target. Worse, the would-be murderer is the father of the girl he's fallen in love with, who calls him Egg. Egg has no idea why any of this is happening; he also has no idea why, as complications develop, the most feared pirate on the high seas is taking such an interest in him. He does know that he has to think fast and run for his life, and he needs some new friends.
Is it any good?
Egg and Millicent and the situations they encounter are interesting and appealing, and the plot complications (not to mention the hints of things to come in future installments) are quite promising. There's never a dull moment in DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE (the debut novel of Geoff Rodkey, the screenwriter for such movies as Daddy Day Care, Daddy Day Camp and RV), as some drastic development changes everything any time there's a peaceful second.
The violence levels (people are killed, Egg is always in mortal danger) and fondness for grotesque comic embellishment -- particularly with regard to the mutilated pirates -- will be entertaining to some readers, but others will find that these elements detract from the book's charms. But the strong plot and winning characters override much of the annoyance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Egg learns not to trust appearances. What are some examples of "friends" who turn out to be enemies, or vice versa?
How does Deadweather and Sunrise compare with other pirate stories you've read or seen in movies?
Do you see similarities between the way the Rovians treat the natives of Sunrise and the way the Europeans treated the natives of Caribbean islands during the Colonial period?
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