HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Rogue Crew
Author: Brian Jacques
Illustrator: Sean Rubin
Publisher: Philomel Books, 2011
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Jacques, Brian. The Rogue Crew (copyrighted in 2011 by The Redwall Abbey Company Ltd. and published by Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group of The Penguin Group USA Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). The Rogue Crew is the 22nd book in the Redwall Abbey series of fantasy novels by Brian Jacques. The one main objection to these stories that I have heard, even from some homeschoolers, is that they are not specifically “Christian” fantasy, like the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. At the same time, I would reply that they are definitely NOT “anti-Christian” fantasy like books of Philip Pulliam, nor even occultic fantasy like Harry Potter, and the fact is that they are definitely representative of a general Biblical worldview, as is clear from a 2003 interview of Jacques by Susan Olasky in World Magazine. Jacques said, “In all of my books there is a struggle between the Dark and the Light. Of course, the Light always wins. I try to emphasize the importance of family, of community, of the goals that can be achieved when everyone works together, and at the base of it all is love. ‘Love thy neighbor’ is not just a dry sentiment to me, it’s quite real. Such simple words, ‘Love thy neighbors,’ and yet so hard for a great many people to practice.”
He went on to say, “Children understand at a very young age that some things are bad and some things are good. It’s a bad thing to hit your brother or sister over the head; it’s a good thing to share, to help your mom and dad. It used to be we learned right from wrong at home and church. But that no longer seems to be the case as much as it was when I was growing up. So I try to paint very clear moral signposts at an age when children need to hear very unambiguous messages. ‘This is good. That is bad. Period. End of discussion.’” I especially appreciated the following observations. “I was writing to entertain blind children at The Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool, where I live. And the reason I began to write Redwall was because I had volunteered to read to them. The books they gave me to read to the children were dreadful! They were about dysfunctional families, teen-age pregnancies, drug addiction, alcoholism, and deep psychological problems. I hated those books and so did the children. I kept thinking, ‘Why can’t I read to them books that I enjoyed as a kid, full of action, adventure, and derring-do!’ And I went home and began to write Redwall for them.”
In The Rogue Crew the hideously evil Razzid Wearat, supposedly a cross between a weasel and a rat, has sailed his ship, the Greenshroud from his home on the southern Isle of Irgash to the Mossflower area in search of new lands to plunder, leaving a wake of death and destruction. His only defeat had been at the hands of the mighty Rogue Crew of sea otters on the High North Coast led by Skor Axehound. After returning to Irgash to recuperate and repair his ship, Razzid and his vermin come back in the Greenshroud, which now has wheels and can glide over land as well as through water, to take revenge on Axehound, attack the badger mountain of Salamandastron, and eventually conquer the peaceful creatures of Redwall Abbey. The Rogue Crew must join with the brave Long Patrol of hares who serve the badger mistress Lady Violet Wildstripe in an attempt to defeat the Wearat with the help of the ever-present Guerilla Union of Shrews in Mossflower (Guosim) under Log-a-Long Dandy Clogs, the Fortunate Freepaws, and even some cave bats. Who will win the battle? Concerning language, besides a few common euphemisms, the euphemistic “confounded” appears frequently and the term “Hellgates” is found rather often. But it is a very satisfying read. Unfortunately, it is also the last book of the Redwall series. Brian Jacques died on February 5, 2011. He had finished the book before his death, and it was published posthumously. Thus end the chronicles of Redwall.