Arrr! Who doesn’t love a good swashbuckling pirate tale? While piracy plays a large part in 1924 Newbery winner The Dark Frigate, absent is the humor (and possibly eyeliner) familiar in popular, modern pirate portrayals. There is, however, no shortage of adventure in this story of orphan Philip Marsham by Charles Boardman Hawes.
Finding himself in trouble and in need of escape, Philip follows in the footsteps of his sea-loving father by signing on with the “Rose of Devon.” More misfortune strikes when the ship is overtaken by pirates who give the sailors the choice of piracy or death. Forget walking the plank, the sailors who refuse a pirate’s life are brutally and bloodily executed by the sword. It’s no surprise the path Philip chooses; after all, what sense would there be to kill off the hero in the middle of the book? He makes it clear he is an unwilling participant though, and devotes his time to solving the problems of how to escape the pirates and avoid the penalty of piracy — hanging. Continue reading