fiction favorites…Fergus Crane

Fergus Crane, by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

This was the third night in a row that the mysterious little flying box had arrived at Fergus’s attic window.  The first night he had been in bed, fast asleep, when he had suddenly been wakened.  Tap…tap…tap..
Fergus’s eyes had snapped open…He’d looked round to see the box perched on the narrow ledge outside, one of its mechanical wings knocking against the glass.
Fergus had climbed slowly out of bed, tiptoed across the room and nervously opened the window.  The little box had flapped inside exhaustedly, its tiny wings beating in a curious up-down circular movement.  Fluttering down, it had come to rest in Fergus’s upturned hands.
Fergus had gently turned it over, marvelling at the little box’s ornate carvings and perfect dovetailed joints…A small door at the front of the box had sprung open, as if on a tiny spring, and out had popped a piece of paper.  It was carefully folded and sealed with red sealing-wax, the imprint of a webbed foot pressed into its shiny surface…
Dear boy behind the counter at Beiderbecker’s Bakery, it read, in curling letters of jet-black ink…Please write your name in the box provided if you want to know something to your advantage, Signed, T.C., a well-wisher.

Fergus Crane, a respectful, kind, brave, and very agile young boy, is in danger.  One day, all is merely ordinary; living with his sweet mum, sampling her decadent chocolate florentines, attending the school ship Betty-Jeanne, run by the strange, hot-tempered Captain Claw and his cronies.  Then out of the blue, a flying box, cryptic messages, a monumental mechanical horse, and several bustling penguins abruptly enter his life.

Fergus is about to embark on a dangerous, heroic adventure.  His mission: rescue four schoolmates from the deadly-wicked plans of Captain Claw.  His ally:  inventive-genius Uncle Theo.  His destination:  Fire Island, rising out of the Emerald Sea as part of the Scorpion Archipelago.  Will Fergus outpace and outsmart the villainous crew of the Betty-Jeanne, or will Captain Claw enrich himself with Fire Diamonds at the cost of his friends’ lives?  And what does the scrappy little automated lunchbox have to do with it all?

This is a superb fantasy-adventure story, jammed with tingling detail, populated with peculiar characters, and sprouting everywhere  with spiffy line drawings.  Winner of the Nestle Smarties Gold Award  in 2004, this is the first in a series of Far-Flung Adventures.  I kept turning the pages, wondering how it could continue as smashingly as it started, and…made it to the very last word without disappointment.  Yes!  Sheer fun for 6-12 year olds.  A rich vocabulary requires a very confident reader or use as a read-aloud.  Some of you will rue the wee bit of piratical cursing  at the apex of the drama, but it is only a very wee bit, and…they are pirates, after all.

Here’s the Amazon link:Far-Flung Adventures: Fergus Crane