Entries in Elizabeth Jolley (1)

Nov032013 review 3.11.2013

Following her first three Strong Winds books, Julia Jones has written a wonderful continuation of her children's adventure tales, this one centering on one of the lesser characters, Luke. Imaginative, bright & curious, Luke faces challenges that show him his own inner strength. Beginning with a serious injury to his father, leaving Luke unsupervised aboard a docked boat, the plot includes mystery, a trio of foreign characters with an agenda of revenge, and new friends, both young and old. Jones uses a little-known historical event, the Battle of Sole Bay, in which the Dutch attacked English ships. Basing some of the modern-day action of the tale on that event, Jones brings a connection between real history & her well-written, strong story. Luke's inner thoughts are familiar, reminding us of our own young teen years; worrying about his ability to handle the responsibilities he is taking on, wishing he had done things differently, and wondering if the events unfolding are somehow his fault. Throughout a series of unexpected twists, Luke pulls on his inner strength, finds & works with new allies, and succeeds in the end. Jones' writing has matured as she has added to the series. This is a book filled with complex ideas, deep connections and clear, strong narrative. Scenes near the end of the book, aboard a boat attempting to cross the North Sea in stormy weather, are outstanding. Reviews of Jones' earlier books have mentioned a connection to the writing of Arthur Ransome. In The Lion of Sole Bay, we are once again aboard a small boat on the storm-ridden North Sea, as in Ransome's We Didn't Mean to go to Sea. As well. her antagonist, a revenge-crazed woman from the Netherlands, reminds us of Missee Lee, Ransome's Chinese pirate leader. Missee Lee redeems herself by showing her humanistic side at the end of the book by the same name; Jones' Elsevier does not, making her one of a long list of characters one would rather not meet on a dark night. This book is appropriate for middle-school ages and up. Be sure to read the Sole Bay Lectures included at the end of the book to understand the story even better!