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Bloody Jack : being an account of the curious adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy
Book
2002
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. At the age of 12 or so, Mary lives by her wits, begging and stealing on the streets of London, and sleeps under Blackfriars Bridge with a small gang of orphans. When her friend Charlie is murdered, she dons his clothes, calls herself Jacky Faber, and signs on as a ship's boy on the Dolphin, a Royal Navy frigate. In addition to dealing with the challenges of learning how to do her job and stay out of trouble, she must hide her gender while dealing with unexpected changes in her body and her emotions. When she falls in love with one of her shipmates and reveals her secret to him, the two of them have even more to hide. From shooting a pirate in battle to foiling a shipmate's sexual attack to surviving when stranded alone on a Caribbean island, the action in Jacky's tale will entertain readers with a taste for adventure. Phrases from old ballads echo through the text as well as some of the chapter headings, adding to the period feel of the telling. A first novel with a strong voice that is also a memorable piece of historical fiction. --Carolyn Phelan

  Kirkus Review

Posing as a lad in the late 1790s, a spunky orphan girl secures a job as a ship's boy in the British Navy, a position that becomes compromised by her evolving maturity and love for a fellow crewmember. Meyer, a debut novelist, has penned a rousing old-time girl's adventure story, with an outsized heroine who is equal parts gutsy and vulnerable, then sets her loose on a pirate-hunting vessel in the high seas. The novel is full of action and derring-do, but the real suspense is generated by maintaining what the heroine calls "The Deception," her disguise as a boy. Initially, it's fairly easy because Jacky, as the heroine decides to call herself, is as flat-chested, hairless, and high-voiced as the rest of the boys. She simulates using the ship's head, imitating the boys' "shake-and-wiggle action" and even creates a faux penis out of cloth under her drawers, so that she's as "well rigged out" as the rest of the lads. Clever and courageous, Jacky deals with both the ship's bully and pedophile, fights pirates valiantly, and manages to save the day for her shipmates, enabling them to secure the buccaneers' booty. Jacky is such a marvelous creation that the other characters feel shadowy in comparison, and the least engaging parts of the novel involve her secret romance with a fellow ship's boy. Capped by a fitting but bittersweet ending, the first-person narrative shines, and a wealth of historical research is seamlessly knitted into the material. A first-rate read. (Fiction. 12+)
Summary
Life as a ship's boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.<br> There's only one problem: Jacky is a girl . And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life--if only she doesn't get caught. . . .<br>
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