Eoin (pronounced Owen) Colfer was a primary schoolteacher who also narrated fairy tales to children. “They occasionally listened to these stories,” he says in the Meet Eoin Colfer video on his website. “And I realized that ‘occasionally’ was better than ‘never’.”
Now a full-time writer with five best-selling Artemis Fowl (the teenage mastermind) stories, The Supernaturalist, The Wish List and the Legend series under his belt, Colfer is an author children would like to read again and again.
Will and Marty Woodman are back in this second instalment of the Legend series. The Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth is a worthy sequel to The Legend of Spud Murphy, which is about the boys’ adventure in the library of Mrs Murphy who has the dreaded gas-powered spud gun.
Pirates of the Caribbean takes a back seat. This is unadulterated, uncomplicated fun guaranteed to arouse the imagination of any child. If there was Mrs “Spud” Murphy in the first one, it is the fearsome Captain Crow in this book.
The Woodman family consists of five naughty brothers and their parents. Marty and Will are the oldest in the pack. The others, Donnie, Bert and HP (Half Pint), are too young to play starring roles. It all starts when Marty, the master inventor of scary stories, tells the others about the legend of the terrifying Captain Augustine Crow.
Crow and his gang of pirates loot, plunder and kill seafarers along the coast by first luring the ships on to the rocks using lamps. One such raid went horribly wrong for the pirate Captain when a nine-year-old cabin boy hit him on the head with an axe. Crow’s only thought now is revenge, but he gets killed. His ghost takes over and it is the belief of the people living around Duncade’s Point that he still haunts the place looking for the boy. And when Captain Crow’s ghost is around, the sea glows with a strange green light.
Will is all of nine years old and lives in irrational dread of that fact. He has only one unattainable wish in life—he wants to be eight. Things reach a climax when Marty and Will go for a dance party at night. Will wins a pirate dress as a prize in a game called—Captain Crow’s Choice. Later that night, he leaves the party dressed as a ship’s hand with a skull-and-crossbones hat.
To make matters worse, on the return journey, Marty refuses to take him on his bicycle because he has to drop another girl home. Will is asked to take the short cut by the coast. As he fearfully makes his unsteady, quaking way down the very rocks the Captain is rumoured to haunt, the sea starts glowing and Crow makes an appearance. Can the boy escape the clutches of the ruthless pirate?
The Legend of Captain Crow is the kind of story Roald Dahl would be proud of. It is a simple, charmingly-written tale that eight- to nine-year-olds will love.
Most children would be hoping Colfer sticks to his declaration: “I will keep writing until people stop reading or I run out of ideas. Hopefully neither of these will happen anytime soon.” The man himself prefers fairy and leprechaun tales to stories about wizards. That is probably due to his Irish roots. “We have a healthy obsession with fairies,” is his belief. The Artemis Fowl books are testimony to this.
The writer is the editor of Heek, a children’s magazine.
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