On a dark and stormy night in 1609, young Emmaline Perth's wish for something "significant" to be blown her way comes true. Soon, the great coastal city of MacOongafoondsen (population 21) discovers an unexpected visitor by way of a beached ship. No one knows quite what to make of the ship, nor of its sole inhabitant. "So that's what a Frenchman looks like!" says Bob the Milkmaid. Shmink the Bailiff has already illogically determined that the ship must hail from France. With breathtaking stupidity, the town leaders promptly decide that this "Frenchman"--really a chimpanzee--is a thief and a spy, and take him into custody: "You will be held until your trial in my dank and rat-filled cellar," Shmink announces. "You will be treated humanely, given a fair trial, found guilty, and shot until you are dead." (When Luigi the Carpenter's Husband reminds him that there are no guns in MacOongafoondsen, Shmink amends the punishment to hanging.) Fortunately, wise Emmaline and her friend Young Flurp the Town Fool will have none of this. Justice will be served, but not until they've experienced some high adventure beneath the city in an underground river, upstairs in Shmink's filthy house, in a haunted castle, and by the gallows in a last-ditch effort to save Monsieur Eek, the chimp.|
In his first foray into children's fiction, well-known playwright David Ives marries the absurd with a very real message about justice and equality. The truly remarkable citizens of MacOongafoondsen are what make this story "spec-tac-ular" (as Emmaline's dear departed father used to say). There's Ongka the Fat Bread Maker, who is thin and shapely, but she makes fat loaves of bread. Then there's Minister Moonster the Minister (who is Plain Willum the Weaver on weekdays), Kawasaki the Left-Handed Farmer, Barbara the Carpenter, and Mayor Ignoratius B. Overbite, each unique and memorable in his or her own way. Highly recommended. (Ages 9 and older).
Source: Emilie Coulter, Amazon.com.