“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Dagger Quick ▪ Chapter book

The Dagger Quick
by Brian Eames
Trade paperback  November 12, 2013   Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Paula Wiseman Books   Grades 3 - 7
It’s the pirate’s life for Kitto in this “exciting and richly detailed historical swashbuckler” (Publishers Weekly).
Story: Twelve-year-old Christopher, aka Kitto, is seemingly doomed to follow in the footsteps of his father as a barrel-maker in seventeenth-century England, especially because of his clubfoot. Yet Kitto longs for more. And after his father is murdered and his stepmother and brother are kidnapped, he has no choice but to set off on a dangerous seafaring voyage with bounty hunters on his trail and his sole ally an uncle he hardly knows; an uncle who is an infamous pirate and the only man ever crazy enough to steal from the equally infamous Governor of Jamaica…

A lively narrative School Library Journal calls “fast-paced, well-developed, and historically accurate…this coming-of-age quest is perfect for landlubbers and pirate aficionados alike.” 

Story behind the story:  Author Brian Eames tells us how the book came to be:  "It’s the spring of 2005, and I am giddily sucking down fresh air and lounging in the beach chair I keep stowed in the back of my truck for this purpose. It is my lunch break, which lasts an impossibly short forty-five minutes, and the back side of the windowless warehouse that houses my current employment is my nearest and only companion. I left teaching elementary school four years earlier to join a family business I thought I would take over when my father-in-law retired, but over time I have decided that I desperately need to get back to teaching. I just miss it all too much: the kids, the curiosity, the creative chaos and humor of a classroom. 

My brown bag lunch lies in my lap. One hand digs inside, but the other? It’s clutching a book, of course, one I had plucked from the shelves of the public library: Close to the Wind, by Pete Goss. I have been reading lots of books lately featuring ships and sailing, a little odd given that I have hardly set foot aboard a wind-powered vessel since cruising a local lake in my Sunfish as a kid. But not odd too. My work is not particularly onerous, but unlike teaching, it leaves me feeling deadened, and during my brief midday break I need to be utterly transported—far, far away. 

I am just looking to drift off, then, but what I am getting from the book in my hands is about to turn into much more. Goss tells the story of his ultimate dream: the desire to compete in the Vendee Globe, a single-handed round-the-world yacht race. Setback after setback besiege him: money pressures, family pressures, problems with the design of his vessel, qualifying race deadlines nearly missed. Just when it seems the world is dead set against him, his luck turns—but not simple luck that befalls those who may not have earned it, but good fortune won by sheer dint of effort. Goss stays positive and focused and utterly determined, and while I am reading, I experience his triumph as his dream becomes real. 

I am hypnotized. Dumbfounded. My heart is hammering in my chest, and the half-eaten peanut butter sandwich balanced on one knee is attracting flies I don’t bother to brush away. I look up from the book; the brick edifice stares back at me. 

What’s my Vendee Globe? I ask myself. What item tops my Bucket List? What is the one distant and unlikely goal that—if I succeeded in achieving it—I could hold up for the rest of my life like a trophy to my existence? What’s the desire I hardly dare whisper to myself out of fear that I might never be able to get it? 

And right away I know what it is. I turn the book over on top of the sandwich, and my imagination starts reeling. I see ships and wind and a boy with an unlikely dream. And right there, The Dagger Quick is born. 

"Pirates! Bullies! Murder and mayhem! Family secrets! Seventeenth-century England to Cape Verde and the Caribbean! … Kitto, 12 years old, clubfooted, about to discover that his last name is different from what he thought, that his deceased mother had a dark and complicated past and that his uncle is a pirate. Kitto’s father, a cooper, is murdered, and Kitto kills his attacker, then is off to sail with his uncle after his stepmother and adored little brother are kidnapped." – Kirkus Reviews

"Readers will undoubtedly identify strongly with the scrappy Kitto, and this will heighten the tension built around his inevitable struggles and ultimate hard-won successes. The story is accurate enough to grab historical fiction fans and sharp and quick enough to keep adventure fans enthralled."  Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"The adventures are non-stop, page-turning fun. With an ending that begs for a sequel, there’s no doubt this book will become a new hit. " – Library Media Connection

"Readers will undoubtedly identify strongly with the scrappy Kitto, and this will heighten the tension built around his inevitable struggles and ultimate hard-won successes. The story is accurate enough to grab historical fiction fans and sharp and quick enough to keep adventure fans enthralled.... they’ll enjoy imagining how the subsequent events might play out in Kitto’s able hands." – Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Order your reviewer's copy now.


Laura Miller said...

I just finished reading The Dagger Quick by Brian Eames and my only succinct comment is, WOW! This novel, the first in a series, is action packed and captures the reader's attention from page one. I have not read a young adult fiction with as many plot twists and turns as The Dagger Quick offers.
A pirate story, set in England, 1678 and traveling throughout the carribean, carries young Kitto Quick on a mad adventure of loss and self discovery. The reader can't help but root Kitto on as he rescues his young brother, Duck, from being sold as a slave and his stepmother from the mast of a ship during a pirate ocean battle.
My only regret is that I must wait for the next installment in the story. I would definitely share this with students age 10-12 years old or older. I thoroughly enjoyed the story as an adult as well. This book is a must for any picnic basket and I rate it a 5 out of 5!!!

Anonymous said...

Great for YA - swashbuckling adventure - action packed and tense.

Anonymous said...

Awesome adventure story - great for reluctant male readers. Not suggested for elementary - strictly YA due to graphic violence.

MB said...

Pirate stories aren't my thing so I got it into the hands of an interested 6th grade super reader. Unfortunately she found it boring and difficult to get through. I had high hopes for a thrilling swashbuckler, but it didn't capture her attention.
Rating: 2

Keith said...

I like this sort of story. Will have to read this one.