It was easy to tell that Max Elliot Anderson knows the hearts and minds of young boys. The characters, Sam, Tony and Tyler, were typical all-American, adventure-seeking, conclusion-leaping boys full of curiosity and impatience, yet each has his own distinct personality. I highly recommend this book to all adventure-loving (especially pirate-adventure loving) 8 to 11 year old boys or girls.
As an adult I appreciated the way Bible verse and Bible precepts were embedded in the story without being tract-like or preachy. Any kid could read this book and get the message without realizing s/he’d just sat through a Sunday School lesson. Everything fit and flowed and the story was paramount.
There is a prequel to this book which I hadn’t read. It did not impede my understanding of the story, but it might give some pause to younger, less experienced readers. The best way to avoid this is to buy Lost Island Smugglers as well.
***Special thanks to Chila Woychik of Port Yonder Press for sending me a review copy.***
Mr. Anderson was a producer of the nationally televised PBS special, Gospel at the Symphony that was nominated for an Emmy, and won a Grammy for the double album soundtrack. He won a best cinematographer award for the film, Pilgrim’s Progress, which was the first feature film in which Liam Neeson had a staring role.
He has produced, directed, or shot over 500 national television commercials for True Value Hardware Stores. Mr. Anderson owns The Market Place, a client-based video production company for medical and industrial clients. His productions have taken him all over the world including India, New Guinea, Europe, Canada, and across the United States.
Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories.
Each book has completely different characters, setting, and plot. Young readers have reported that reading one of Mr. Anderson’s books is like being in an exciting or scary movie.
For his birthday, he received the gift of his dreams. It’s the latest, top-of-the-line, metal detector. Along with his friends, Tony, and Tyler, all are convinced that they will be the ones to dig up the next great find.
They meet a crusty sea captain named Jack. He’s fixing up an impossible looking old tub. The boys believe it’s going to be used to search for treasure at sea. They get permission from their parents to help with the restoration job in the hopes that Captain Jack will share his wealth.
When Sam’s father nearly dies, from a heart attack, the true values of life take on new importance and meaning.
What is Captain Jack’s mysterious secret? And what is he really planning to do with that boat?
Readers will gain a new appreciation for family, they will learn about the dangers of greed, and oh the stories Captain Jack can tell.
Catching the smugglers out on Lost Island was all that people around Harper’s Inlet could talk about for weeks. Everyone wanted to know which three brave boys had been involved. Sam, Tony, and Tyler weren’t allowed to tell anyone about the mystery. The FBI told them to keep it to themselves for their safety. They had become heroes, yet no one knew their names.
After going scuba diving, getting caught up in a terrible storm, and being stranded on Lost Island, it might seem that Sam Cooper and his friends, Tony and Tyler, would have had all the adventure any three boys could want for a summer, a year, or an entire lifetime. Only that’s not how it worked out. But then, that’s the way it is with boys. Boys are made for danger, adventure, excitement, and conquering things. And that’s exactly what these guys looked for all the time.
Captain Jack’s Hopeless Boat
The storm Sam and his friends had survived wasn’t something any one of them could soon forget. Maybe they never would. So you might want to excuse Sam for what he thought one night, a couple of weeks later.
Lightning knifed across the night sky and thunder roared so loudly that Sam was sure his windows would shatter into a million pieces any second. It didn’t help much that his bedroom faced directly toward the ocean. And those silly stories about lightning coming from angels taking flash pictures, or thunder from them moving their furniture around up in heaven didn’t do him any good either. When he pulled the covers over his head his dark comforter still couldn’t keep out the bright flashes of light.
Sure glad I’m not out there on the ocean again tonight, Sam thought. Man, that’d be terrible.
Suddenly, as if he’d pushed the start button on a DVD player in his head, violent images of the storm he, Tony, and Tyler had survived, came crashing in. With each flash of light, he remembered how the mast had broken like a twig and the boat split in half while he and his friends held on to what was left.
Sam grabbed the extra pillow on his bed and held onto it for a few minutes with his eyes shut tight.
A little later, when he couldn’t sleep, Sam slipped out from the safety of his covers to get a better look at the angry storm. A huge surf crashed against the beach. He watched white caps on the pounding waves with each giant lightning bolt. The weather forecast this summer called for heavy storms in and around where he lived. The big one he and his friends had been caught out in was the first of the season.
Great, he thought. Another storm. Now we’ll have to forget our plans to go fishing in the morning.
Sam lived in Harper’s Inlet, Florida, not far from an area people call the “Treasure Coast.” “Treasure” should have been Sam’s middle name.
He and his friends had often seen people line the pier with their fishing poles dangling over the water below. Most of their time had been spent in the scuba course. Then, after the accident, their parents made them stay home. Part of the reason was to keep them away from each other, and because they’d done something so dangerous.
Sam and his friends had talked many times about how much fun it would be to go down to the pier, sit around, and do nothing all day. During all the time that Sam had to stay at home, just the idea of going outside again seemed like getting out of prison. Well, today was supposed to be their day. They had permission, Tony’s father bought the fishing licenses, and everything was set. Except now, the storm would probably change their plans. Sam climbed into bed again and somehow, even with all that racket, fell back to sleep.
“Sam, Sam, your friends are here!” his mother called from down the hall.
He sort of heard it, but the sound seemed to be coming from another world. And from the wild dreams he often had, he couldn’t be too sure. The next thing Sam knew, he became the jelly in a jam-pile sandwich on his bed. From out of nowhere Tony and Tyler jumped on top of him. Everybody knew, if Tony pounced on you, a guy wouldn’t forget it. They rolled Sam up in his covers and pushed him onto the floor.
Tyler was small for his age, but he still did his best to keep up with Sam and Tony. Tony could stand to skip a meal or two and he was never at a loss for something to say.
“Hey, you guys, cut it out!” Sam said.
“You cut it out!” Tony shouted. “We had to wake up early, get our stuff, and come over here, only to find you, king of the sleeping slugs, still in bed. Now get up.”
“But the storm.”
“What storm? Haven’t you looked outside? The sun is shining, there’s a nice breeze, and we already saw people fishing off the pier on our way over here.”
“Yeah,” Tyler said, “and they’re catching our fish.”
“So get moving before we drag you down there in your P J’s,” Tony threatened.
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Oh wouldn’t we?”
With that, Sam broke away, ran to the bathroom, and locked the door so he could get ready. “Go on to the kitchen. My Mom will give you something to eat. I’ll be out in a minute,” he yelled from inside the room. Tony and Tyler did as he said—and before long he joined them.
Sam’s mother had packed a delicious lunch for each of them the night before. It included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit punch, potato chips, chocolate cake, and a few surprises. Soon Sam and his friends were on their way, walking toward the pier, for a long lazy day.
Sam took a deep breath. “Sure is great to get out again.”
“I know,” Tony said. “I thought my dad would never get over us losing that catamaran.”
“Us?” Sam asked.
Tony just looked back at him.
“What are we going to use for bait?” Tyler asked.
“Nothin’, ” Sam said.
“What do you mean, nothin’?” Tony asked. “You just gonna whistle, and call ‘Here fishy, fishy, fishy’?”
“We’ll use lures that my dad gave me. They’ll look just like little fish to the big fish we’re after. I have a bunch in my tackle box. You guys can use any of them you want.”
Sam’s tackle box clanked and rattled as he walked toward the pier. Its green paint had plenty of scratches and rust from years of use. His grandfather had used the old thing first. Then he’d given it to Sam’s father. But his job as a research biologist didn’t leave much time for fishing. So he’d given the tackle box, and three rods and reels, to Sam.
The box had a black, metal handle on top, and a nearly scratched off sticker with a largemouth bass jumping out of the water on the end of a fishing line. Sam’s tackle box held extra reels, fishing line, several different lures, red and white plastic bobbers, lead weights—everything he’d need for fishing.
“Whatcha got in that box?” Tony asked.
Sam winked and said, “All I can tell you is, when it comes to fishing, if I don’t have it, we don’t need it.”
“Did I ever tell you about the last time I went fishing with my dad,” Tyler asked, “before we got divorced?”
“No, but I’m sure you’re about to,” Tony said.
“It was the funniest thing you ever saw. Well, I thought it was funny.” He blinked and jerked his head. “Anyway, we went out in this big boat with a bunch of other people. I hadn’t ever been fishing before.”
“So how’d you do?” Sam asked.
“That’s the funny part. I caught my dad…three times.”
“Ha! You must have thrown him back then ’cause I just saw him when we got rescued from Lost Island,” Tony said.
“It gets worse. I didn’t just catch him three times, but, call it beginners luck if you want to, I caught the most fish on the whole boat too!”
“How in the world did you do that?” Sam asked.
“I don’t know. All I did was drop my line in the water and bam, a fish hit my hook. I finally had to quit because I was getting so tired from pulling in all those fish.”
“You’re lyin’,” Tony said.
Sam put his pole up on one shoulder. “I’ll bet that made the rest of the people feel better, you leaving a few more fish for them.”
He shook his head. “Not really. They still didn’t catch very many.”
“I can’t think of anything worse than catching your dad and the most fish,” Sam said.
“Well, it gets worse.”
“Yeah, because I got sick and threw up all over the deck.”
“Boy, I hate it when that happens,” Tony said.
“My dad hated it too. He kept on apologizing to all the people and the captain.”
“So what happened?” Sam asked.
“What happened is my dad has never invited me to go fishing again. I used to think that was one of the reasons he left us. Today is my first time fishing since that all happened.”
Sam smiled. “Promise me you aren’t going to catch any of us today, Tyler.”
“And no throwing up on the pier either,” Tony warned.
“I’ll try not to.”
By this time they were walking along the beach. They noticed several people searching in the sand with metal detectors.
“There’s a bunch of them out today. Wonder why?” Tyler asked.
“I read that it’s best to search for stuff right after a big storm like we had last night,” Sam said.
“Because all that wind and the waves tear up the sand and move it around so it’s easier to find things.”
“That must be right because I don’t remember seeing this many people most days.”
Sam let out a deep sigh. “Yeah, I really wish I had a metal detector.”
Tony added, “Think of all the money we could make with one of those babies.”
“We?” Sam asked.
“Well, you’d let us in on it, right?”
“Your dad could buy each of us one if he wanted to,” Tyler told Tony.
“Not after we lost his boat and all that scuba gear.”
Sam looked at him again. “We?”
Tony reached the pier and stepped onto its worn boards. Sam thought their footsteps sounded like the hollow booms of big base drums.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people fishing before either,” Sam said. “Wonder if the storm stirs up the fish, too?”
“Hey, Tyler,” Tony said. “Watch out for all these people. You wouldn’t want any of them to catch you.”
Sam and his friends had to walk way out near the end of the pier until they found an open spot where all three could set up. They began the long, lazy day of fishing they’d dreamed about for so long. space The hours crept by, the shadows grew longer, and each boy caught at least one fish.
“We didn’t do so well today,” Tyler complained. “Nothing like my last time.”
“It’s okay. That’s why they call it fishin’ and not catchin’,” Sam said.
It had been a fun day, but now it was time to pack up and head for home. Living by the ocean, Sam loved the water. He knew that Tony and Tyler loved it, too. The smells from the sea, the pelicans swooping down to gobble up a fish in their big scoop-of-a-mouth, the gentle breezes, all helped Sam and his friends to relax. They saw dolphins jumping far out in the water.
They came to the end of the pier, walked along the beach for a stretch, and turned toward Dodds’ Marina. Tony pointed to an old boat near the marina that they hadn’t really thought much about before.
“Hey, you guys,” Tony said. “Have you seen that sorry excuse for a boat? Man, he’s got to be kidding. You put that thing out in the water and it’d sink for sure.”
“I saw it when we came back from Lost Island,” Sam said.
They walked over to the dock for a closer look. The boat was in bad shape and needed more than a simple coat of paint. Some of the windows were broken, and the railings were either rusted or missing. Just then, a short, heavy-set man climbed up from below. He looked almost as worn out as the deck he stood on. His tired eyes searched around as he stretched, rubbed his back, and then saw something on the dock near where the Sam and his friends stood.
In a loud voice the man called out, “Ahoy, you boys. Could one of you toss me that rope by your feet?”
Sam looked down to see a large coil of rope. “You want the whole thing or just one end?”
“The end will do.”
Sam grabbed it and walked toward the side of the boat. He handed the rope up to the man and as he did, Sam stared at his dry, cracked hands. Some of the cracks were bleeding a little.
He didn’t know what to say, so he asked, “This your boat?”
“Naw, I found it bobbing around out there in the ocean, pulled her in, and claimed her for my own.”
“Really, you did that? Whose was it?”
“Probably belonged to pirates or smugglers, I expect.”
“How could that be? I mean, it’s in pretty bad shape,” Sam said.
“I’m just kidding you, matey. I bought her off a guy that was about to sell her for scrap. I’m fixin’ her up. She’s all mine.”
“Mister,” Tyler asked, “why isn’t your boat in the water?”
“They got me in this thing called a dry dock. That’s because she needs a lot of work on the topside, and the bottom.”
“I’ll say,” Tony whispered.
“Looks like you’re all by yourself. Isn’t anyone helping you?” Sam asked.
The old man shook his head. “Nope, just me, that’s all. You wouldn’t be looking for a job, now would ya?”
“A job? What kind of a job?”
“Helping me fix up this old tub. I could use the lot of ya.”
“I don’t know,” Sam answered. “I’d have to ask my dad.”
“That’s a good idea. Why don’t you do that? If your parents say it’s okay, come on back and I’ll put you to work. I’ll pay you for your trouble too.”
“We’ll tell you tomorrow if we get permission.”
“Sounds good to me. I’ll be right here. This pile of boards isn’t going any place unless a hurricane comes along. Right now that’s about the only thing that could move her from this spot,” he said, letting out a loud, long laugh. The boys could still hear it as they walked away.
“I think it’d be a great idea to work on that old boat. We could make some money, too,” Tyler said. “I wonder what he’s fixing it up for?”
“Probably to search for treasure. One look at him and anybody knows he could use the money,” Tony said.
“Is there any treasure around here?” Sam asked. “I read about the Treasure Coast before we moved.”
Tony laughed. “I can tell you aren’t from around here. The Treasure Coast is farther north.”
Sam stopped walking. “Oh, and I suppose boats can’t go up and down the coast?”
“Sure they do,” Tyler said.
“A treasure hunting boat. Yeah, I’ll bet that’s it,” Sam whispered.
“I think we should help him,” Tyler said. “Then he’ll feel like he has to invite us to go out and search for treasure with him. I mean, he’d have to share it with us like partners.”
Sam thought for a moment, “A treasure hunting ship. Wouldn’t that be something? Just think of all the gold and stuff we could find with a boat like that.”