The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones

illus. by Ross Collins. 304p. (Mabel Jones: Bk. 1). Viking. Jun. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780451471963. LC 2014030543.
Gr 3–6—If you should ever decide to pick your nose, do not, under any circumstances, put what you find in there in your mouth. For if you perform this sacred deed, you might find yourself kidnapped from the safe Hooman world (by a surprisingly silent loris) and suddenly out to sea on a pirate ship filled with fearsome pirate animals such as goats, orangutans (formally a hair salon owner), pigs, and a foul-breathed wolf captain. If you did, you would be much like our brave hero Mabel Jones, who finds herself standing aboard the Feroshus Maggot as Captain Idyss Ebenezer Split prepares to have her walk the Greasy Pole of Certain Death. Mabel, clad only in her pajamas, saves herself from the torrent of the ocean by reading. Desperate to figure out the names of the pirates who stole pieces of a magical X from his father, Split has been waiting from someone to read them. The X will mark the spot of a magical treasure and, according to the pirates, open a portal back to the Hooman world so that Mabel might return home. So her ridiculous, dangerous, and vile adventures begin as she and her new cohorts track down the pieces. The heroine finds herself challenging a merciless bear to a milk drinking contest, breaking pirates out of prison, outwitting a vain duke, and breaking into a crypt in search of a deceased sheep. The ever-present narrator is obviously a pirate (and a very opinionated one at that) and adds a proper amount of exaggeration and attempted suspense to the tale telling. This style is entertaining, though better accomplished in Caroline Carlson's "The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates" series (HarperCollins). Black-and-white illustrations are sprinkled throughout.
VERDICT A zany and twisted pirate tale that could be a good addition to collections for readers transitioning into longer chapter books.

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