The Ship of Stolen Words

The Ship of Stolen Words
Age Range
Release Date
June 01, 2021
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A group of goblins steal a boy’s ability to apologize in this lively middle-grade fantasy from Nebula Award-winning author Fran Wilde

No matter how much trouble Sam gets in, he knows that he can always rely on his magic word, “sorry,” to get him out of a pinch. Teasing his little sister too much? Sorry! Hurt someone’s feelings in class? Sorry! Forgot to do his chores? So sorry! But when goblins come and steal his “sorry,” he can’t apologize for anything anymore. To get his “sorry” back and stop the goblins from stealing anyone else’s words, Sam will have to enter the goblins’ world and try and find the depository of stolen words.
There, he meets Tolver, a young goblin who’s always dreamed of adventure. Tolver longs to use the goblin technology—which can turn words into fuel to power ships—to set off and explore, but his grandma warns him that the goblin prospectors will only bring trouble.
Together, Tolver and Sam will have to outsmart the cruel prospectors and save the day before Sam’s parents ground him forever!

Editor review

1 review
Pirates, Goblins, and Stolen Words
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What if someone stole your words and you were no longer able to say them?
We've all experienced that feeling of being unable to say what you want. Imagine for a moment that the words are physically stolen from you. The Ship of Stolen Words confronts just this issue. Sam is counting down the minutes to summer vacation. However he and his best friend Mason are having troubles in their friendship. When Sam wants to express that he is sorry, he finds that the word is missing from his vocabulary and embarks on a quest to find the missing word. Encountering pirates and goblins and a world unlike any he's ever known, Sam is about to have the adventure of his life.
I really enjoyed this book. Fran Wilde spins an imaginative tale about the importance of words, the weight they carry, and how to guard and use them wisely. For Sam, his adventure is a learning experience. I loved the goblins and the advanced world they live in. It reminded me a bit of the steampunk fantasies in YA fiction. While written for an older elementary audience with longer chapters and challenging words, I believe it will appeal to middle grade readers as well.
Final Thoughts: The Ship of Stolen Words teaches an important lesson about how and when to use our words and offers an exciting adventure filled with perils and new friends.
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