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'Hook's Revenge' is a new swashbuckling tale from Neverland
Heidi Schulz
Heidi Schulz is the author of "Hook's Revenge" for middle grade readers. - photo by heidischulzbooks.com

HOOK’S REVENGE,“ by Heidi Schulz, illustrations by John Hendrix, Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, 290 pages (f) (ages 8-12)

Jocelyn Hook, the 12-year-old daughter of famous -- and infamous -- Captain Hook, runs away from Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies to avenge the death of her father from a ferocious crocodile whose reputation (and tick-tock of a clock in his innards) puts fear in his adversaries, including Peter Pan and the Lost Boys of Neverland.

Jocelyn buys a single-masted sloop, christens it Hook’s Revenge and hires the old pirate Smee and a motley, untrained crew, including some of Peter Pan’s banished Lost Boys.

Jocelyn’s adventures include an encounter with a bevy of heckling mermaids, and she is snared by the Karnapinae people, who are cannibals and plan a feast in her behalf, saying, “You will not be a guest at the feast. Instead, you will have the great honor of becoming the main dish.”

She handles hunger, almost drowns and rescues a tiny fairy whose fairy village, in turn, saves her life.

J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan story, “Peter and Wendy” (published in 1911), left unanswered questions that numerous authors have speculated over for years. For example, did Captain Hook’s notorious career allow him the opportunity to have a wife and family? What happened to Hook’s pirate ship, the Jolly Roger?

Heidi Schulz’s debut novel has taken tidbits from the traditional story for a new adventure. Because the original “Peter Pan” expounded the notion that magic happens “if you believe,” this author has capitalized on that lesson as Jocelyn’s “I believe I can” leads to her facing her own fears and finding the “normal, everyday kind of magic in life.”

Schulz has cleverly used a lofty storytelling voice with a narrator who interjects humorous but often unrelated anecdotes into the story. At times, the narrator addresses the reader with sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek cynicism in a tone not unlike J.M. Barrie’s in his classic story.

“Hook’s Revenge” is laced with clever dialogue and descriptions rich with puns and humor. It’s enjoyable to see how Jocelyn frustrates the cannibals who want her for their main course by distracting them with English table manners, including the proper use of forks and spoons, the correct handling of table napkins, and organizing a 12-course meal while practicing the extravagant courtesies of dinner-party conversation.

The author does not shy away from using pirate life slang and provides a glossary of terminology. “Hook’s Revenge” contains no bad language or inappropriate violence.

The heroine Jocelyn’s next adventure will be released in fall 2015 in “Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code.”

Email: marilousorensen@ymail.com