The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt
Published by Puffin
Mabel Jones has been kidnapped from her bed for doing ‘The Deed’ (picking her nose and eating it) and commandeered as a swashbuckling female pirate aboard the ‘Feroshus Maggot’ with its cast of anthropomorphised animal pirates. Mabel’s bravery and intelligence are put to good use on Captain Split’s quest for the four pieces of an X to unlock the treasure. But time is running out – the key will only work in the week that the comet can be seen in the sky.
This is a fun romp, with gross-out moments, fast pace and quick and lively wit, including literary references (eg Moby Dick). The idiosyncratic narrator directly addresses the reader, and sometimes even the characters. At one point, the narration is suspended for the narrator to nibble some pickles, which adds to the odd-ball feel of the text. Some of the humour requires dexterity with English to fully comprehend all of the spelling jokes eg. Feroshus, hooman, Omynus.
English author, Mabbitt’s ability to make trouble for Mabel and the pirates is genius, as are the clues, riddles and solutions. Collin’s fabulously detailed sketches add depth to the characterisation, and although they appear only every few pages, the text is spattered with elements that capture reader’s attention like maps and letters, varied spacing, shaded pages and highlighted font that make the 290 pages feel much shorter.
The surprising element in the story is its heart - the bonds of friendship that form between Mabel and the crew, and the message of kindness winning the day. And Mabel is a gem – a swashbucklingly brave, curious, intelligent, kind heroine who will appeal to both boys and girls alike.
This first book in a series is a lively, fun, gross-out story with a fast pace and heart that will have children willing to walk the ‘Greasy Pole of Certain Death’ to find the next one.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Will Mabbitt
Illustrator: Ross Collins
Title: The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones
Published: May 2015