A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is quite a bit of violence here, some rather gruesome, especially a gratuitous scene where a man cuts off and swallows the tip of his own tongue to frighten a boy he is attempting to kill. The violence is set in a science fiction context, but it may be intense for kids unable to separate fantasy from reality. All in all though, this book celebrates classic values, like bravery and honor, and Nick is brave, stalwart, loyal, honest, true, and utterly dependable. Readers will pick up on a smattering of real historical characters and events, and the high adventure here may have a special appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys.
What's the story?
Nick longs to be a hero, but sees little opportunity on his tiny island in the English Channel in 1939. But then, in quick succession, he discovers that his father is spying on the Nazis, a pirate is threatening him and his family -- and an ancestor from the past has sent him a time machine and needs his help to save Lord Nelson. Soon he is off to a sea battle in a previous century while his little sister helps a British commander to capture an experimental Nazi submarine.
Is it any good?
There's no doubt this genre mash-up will have boys, and even some girls, thoroughly engrossed right from the exciting opening. It's got pirates, spies, Nazi villains, swordfights, artillery -- and even time travel. This is the kind of book that can launch a million daydreams. And if it has a smattering of real historical characters and events, so much the better. Are the values espoused too anachronistic for modern times? Not for kids, to whom a black-and-white viewpoint is natural and appealing. Compared to such classic predecessors as Treasure Island, it may not be as well written, and the attempts at humor may sometimes fall flat, but it has one huge advantage for modern readers -- it moves. Like a galleon under full sail -- or a secret, super-powered Nazi submarine.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the author's intention. He has said that we don't have adventure books for boys anymore, so he decided to write one. Is he right? Is there a lack of adventure books for boys with the old-fashioned virtues of courage and honor? Does this book have more appeal to boys than girls?
This book has a sequel called The Time Pirate, and the author plans other installments. Did you know that when you picked it up? Do you think you will read more about Nick's adventures?
What's fun about reading a series? What might be fun about writing one? Why would a publisher be interested in printing a series?
For kids who love adventure stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.