Review: THE SHIP OF STOLEN WORDS by Fran Wilde (2021)

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Year Release: 2021
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook

Pigs fly in this whimsical novel about the importance of meaning what you say and not relying too heavily on short cuts to getting out of trouble. Fifth grader Sam is ready to kick off summer but when teasing goes too far and a little library gets vandalized, he loses the ability to use his favorite word, “sorry.” The culprits are goblins, and we’re set off on an adventure featuring prospectors, goblins, and ships powered by words.

A delight from start to finish, it was wonderful to watch Sam learn the importance of action behind meaning and Tolver learning the hard way that just because he can, doesn’t mean he should.

Treats here include understanding adults, uneven roads to forgiveness, plus Ursula K. Le Guin elementary which I wish was actually a thing I could claim as a place where I studied. I’m so excited to have Fran on the blog next week.

Tolver and Sam worked so brilliantly opposite each other. I greatly enjoyed how the two boys find themselves in a similar pickle despite one of them trying to make life better for him and his nan and the other tries to save his own hide. It’s effective, and the word play here is clever. In the audiobook, the bits where characters try to say words which were stolen from them were executed in such a fun way. But it also works within the narrative, with character reactions ranging from empathy on one of the spectrum to frustration on the other.

The relationships between the kids were great, but I loved the inclusion of complicated and not-always-right adults. Even these relationship have several dimensions and don’t all look like each other. My particular favorite is the evolution of Sam’s relationship with Ms. Malloy from the beginning to the end of the book.

Wilde cleverly delivers a hard-learned lesson about not misusing words with the way Sam develops from start to finish. Getting the words back doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is fixed. But he is one step closer to healing old wounds, and it is so neatly wrapped up in the end.

One thought on “Review: THE SHIP OF STOLEN WORDS by Fran Wilde (2021)

  1. Pingback: Author to Author with Fran Wilde (The Ship of Stolen Words, 2021) | Jo Writes Fantasy

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