Newbery Books 1924: The Dark Frigate

I just finished the 1924 Newbery Medal book: The Dark Frigate. It’s about a boy who gets mixed up with pirates, but throughout it all he remains honest and incorruptible.  It is a grand pirate adventure, but this book’s audience would likely be for at least 12+. There is some pretty graphic violence and scary characters.  Before I knew this, I started reading the first few pages to Davey. Fortunately, I didn’t have to read to him for too long. He loves stories more than anything, but his eyes quickly began to glaze over.  Who can blame him with paragraphs like these:

“Thy haste, thou pop-eyed fool, would work the end of us all.  Think you, if they see us fling every sail to the wind, they will abide our coming without charging their guns and stationing every gunner with a linstock and lighted match? Nay, though she be but a ketch, let us go limping across her bows as lame as a pipped hen.”

“Pop-eyed fool” got our attention briefly, but I soon lost him after that.   I get the gist, but the specifics of a ketch and pipped hen?  I’d need to do some google searches.

The dialogue is tricky but it is very energetic and descriptive. The dialogue also made more sense when I took the time to read it out loud.

At the end of the book, the author seems to hint at the possibility of a sequel but unfortunately before the book was even published, he died of pneumatic meningitis at the age of only 34.  His widow was awarded the Newbery Medal after his death.  Sadly, there would be no sequel about his subsequent adventures.

There are things I really liked about this book. It was just a matter of slowing down and not being intimidated by the language.  Hawes’ dialogue and expressions are very colorful and often humorous.  The characters are great.  The main “bad guy” is a complex character who also shows moments of kindness and even of heroism.  I’m glad I read it.

So even a blog post about books can use at least the occasional picture.  Davey agreed to model the book for me.

Then I decided that since he didn’t actually read the book, I should have him take a picture of me.  That’s always fun; he likes to take silly pictures.  He’s a good photo assistant though.


I was able to check out The Dark Frigate from our local library. There were no Honor books awarded in 1924, so I am beginning on 1925!