Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Gregory Mone
For ages 9 to 12
Scholastic Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-0545116329

Maurice Reidy lives on a farm in Ireland with his parents and his many siblings. Quite by accident he discovers that he is a natural when it comes to swimming, which is how he earns the nickname of Fish. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for his farming abilities. A task that should take him a few hours somehow seems to take him a whole day. Fish just isn’t cut out for life on a farm.

When the family horse dies, it is clear that one of the children is going to have to go to the city to get a job, and since Fish is the child who is the least useful when it comes to farm work, he is the one who has to go.

Fish goes to work for his uncle as a courier and all in all the life is not a bad one. Then one day Fish’s uncle gives Fish a leather purse full of coins, and he tells the boy to take the bag to a man called Reginald Swift who will be waiting for him on the Mary, a passenger ship bound for America. Fish is told that these clients “do not tolerate mistakes,” and that he “must not fail” to make the delivery.

Fish sees the client waiting for him on the dock, and he is about to hand the man the precious purse when a boy attacks him and takes the purse. Fish is not about to let the boy steal what was placed in his care, so he follows him, swimming out to a ship that is anchored near the shore.

Fish quickly recognizes that the ship is a pirate vessel. Very carefully he searches the ship and he manages to get the purse back. He jumps into the water to swim back to shore when he discovers that one of the pirates has fallen into the sea, and unlike Fish, this man cannot swim. Being a decent human being, Fish saves the pirate, who then threatens him with a cutlass and takes away the purse.

The captain of the ship, who is a very well educated man, offers Fish a job on the ship. Fish is thinking of jumping ship (literally) when he learns that working on a vessel like the Scurvy Mistress can be very rewarding, monetarily speaking. Another of the ship’s boys tells Fish that he has earned “more money than my parents ever dreamed of.”

Fish decides to stay on board so that he too can make a fortune, which he will then be able to send home to his family. He never imagines that he is going to get caught up in a power struggle between the captain and his second-in-command, and that he is going to find himself hunting for treasure. He never imagines that he is going to have to face unthinkable challenges in his new life, many of which will be downright dangerous.

In this beautifully written and exciting novel, Gregory Mone takes his readers on a deliciously exciting adventure that it full of mysteries and colorful characters. Readers will be intrigued to find out how Fish, a farmer’s son who is pacifist, is going to survive on a ship that is full of rogues and ruffians. With brilliant touches of humor throughout, this is a book adults will also enjoy.