Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review: Captain Orkle's Treasure

Title: Captain Orkle's Treasure

Author: Harriet Micocci

Illustrator: Dora

Publisher: Astor / Obolensky / McLeod

Date: 1961

ISBN: none

Length: 153 pages

Quote: “Joby, the boat's moving, and nobody knows we're here!”

Joseph and Sandra, or Joby and Sandy, are old enough to know better than to board a peculiar-looking old boat they find tied to a dock, just around a corner from their uncle's yacht. Possibly they're acting out some emotions about “Uncle Richard and Aunt Margaret being so rich and not really liking children.”

What happens next is much more pleasant than the usual consequences of such stupid behavior in real life. It's a typical adventure fantasy for primary school readers. As was typical of the period when this book was published, the story can be read two ways. Maybe the children “really” just hide on an abandoned boat overnight and dream they've had a delightful, goofy adventure with two feuding pirates (both of whom are remarkably polite to children), a “super-giant” macaw, and a friendly sea serpent who helps them fight a many-headed dragon. Maybe the fictive reality of the story is that the adventure really happened; when the children get home they do find the “treasure” of beautiful, colorful shells still in their pockets.

What's not to love? If I'd written this story it would have taken one of two directions different from the one it does take. Either the kids would have boarded the abandoned boat and had a realistically unpleasant adventure that reinforced the idea that nothing good comes from unauthorized meddling with other people's property, or else they would have met the lovable Pirate Captain Orkle in some legitimate way and been invited to take a little cruise on the boat. Probably the latter.

As written, Captain Orkle's Treasure is a nice, silly, funny adventure story in which courage, perseverance, loyalty, kindness to monsters, and trespassing get rewarded with excitement, friendship, and some pretty seashells. It ought to be a challenging read for first or second grade students who are familiar with yachts, or an easy read for grades three through five.

Harriet Micocci lived to the age of 101, but she no longer has any use for a dollar, so this is not a Fair Trade Book. It can, however, be added to a package along with one or more Fair Trade Books for a total shipping fee of $5. I think I'll put off specifying a price per copy of this book until someone orders it, or I have access to Amazon again, whichever comes first.