Canadian Children's Book Centre's Reviews > Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas

Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas by Cary Fagan
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Feb 07, 12

Reviewed by Ellen Donogh

Jacob Two-Two, the precocious six year old (2+2+2) character created by Mordecai Richler, is an iconic favourite of a whole generation of Canadian children. Cary Fagan’s wonderfully imaginative new book, Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas will appeal to a new generation as they follow Jacob on an action-packed, perilous pirate-attacked voyage from Surrey, England to Montreal. The journey on board the SS Spring-aleak begins with all the original family members, and includes shipmates with unique talents, plus two new friends, Cindy Snootcastle and the massive but kindly Morgenbesser who resides in the engine room. Morgenbesser’s ability to relate to the youngsters and listen closely to their observations leads the reader to rethink who the true villain(s) of the story might be: is it really Scrounger, the first mate with an eye patch and a parrot that spouts laughter inducing phrases like: “Pirates and pickles cost only a nickel!”?
Or the other adults who regularly disbelieve Jacob and Cindy when they tell the truth about what is going on? When the SS Spring-a-leak is attacked by a real pirate ship, Fagan offers a variety of treasures from which the dastardly pirate Crossbones must choose, allowing for some insightful moments leading to an interesting end. Fagan’s engaging characters and his talent for developing dialogue that appeals to budding readers combine effectively with the humorously clever drawings of award-winning illustrator Dušan Petričić. Petričić’s “plus two” chapter marking allows readers to find other ways of expressing number, but it is his new depiction of Jacob and Cary Fagan’s thorough understanding of what adventurous antics appeal to mergent chapter book readers that allows for a most successful rebirth. Dare we hope for more adventures to come?

Canadian Children's Book News (Fall 2009, Vol. 32, No. 4)

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