Sea Cutter: Book I of the Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe

Sea Cutter: Book I of the Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
July 14, 2011
ISBN
978-0-615-51371-3
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Whew! Talk about cliff-hanger chapter endings! When 14-year-old Nathaniel Childe decides to search the South Atlantic for a legendary island where he feels convinced his ship-wrecked father is, the adventure never lets up. Nat, no goody-two-shoes, tricks his old friend Wayland into the voyage on Wayland's sloop Sea Cutter, but the trick puts Nat under the power of Snake, oily, clever, and treacherous. Snake stows away on Sea Cutter with plans of his own--plans that mean death. But Sea Cutter is not just a page-turner. It's loaded with humor, and it teaches two important lessons. First, it is possible to find joy even after the grief of losing someone you love. Second, trust is the basis for friendship.

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swashbuckling good tale!
(Updated: September 10, 2011)
Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
“He’s not dead!”

“Please Nathaniel. It’s been two years. He’s not coming back,” my mother begged.

“How can you give up on him?” I yelled.

Nat’s heart tells him his father survived the shipwreck. But where is he? Why has he left Nat and his mother to a pauper’s existence in New Bedford? Then Nat receives a package from his father, one that had been stolen and delivered years late. One containing treasure. The accompanying letter indicates that his father may be alive on an island in the Atlantic, but none of the sea dogs in New Bedford’s harbor believe in the island’s existence. None of them but the one with hard, snakelike eyes…

Nat eventually persuades an old family friend to make the voyage, but he accomplishes it with deceit. As they sail, Nat’s dishonesty grows and broadens, finally enmeshing him in a murderous scheme. How did a simple lie grow so monstrous? Will it cost him the very things he holds most dear?

Sea Cutter is a cleanly-written adventure with lots of positives. It celebrates truth, family, friendship, honor and forgiveness, and it does so with a LOT of excitement. Mr. Davis has, in particular, a flair for creating danger. He’s a master of foreshadowing, and each chapter ending leaves Nat in impossible scrapes. The tale twists and turns in some unexpected directions, but some well-planted clues help us guess at others. Boys especially will eat up the exploits of this swashbuckling, brave young hero.

Mr. Davis has excellent writer’s instincts. Many of his passages are brilliantly-written. Other areas feel a bit rough. But do I think kids will notice as they’re busy dodging sword blades and escaping the locked holds of a ship? No, I don’t. And with the dedication I’ve personally seen Mr. Davis display, I believe his writing will get better and better.
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