It was not the cover that drew me to this book, THE DEATH-DEFYING PEPPER ROUX. I am not a big fan of books that look a little like pirate books. But I do love Geraldine McCaughrean, so I took the cover off and sat down intending to read a few pages. Well, here it is mid-afternoon and the book is done. Yep, that good.
Meet Pepper Roux whose name is due to an unfortunate misunderstanding when he was but a babe. His name was intended to be Le Pauvre (for poor little one) and instead was heard to be Le Poivre (pepper). Good thing that there was a misunderstanding because Pepper is a much more apt name for this plucky (and yes that is the right word for this guy) boy who steals away hoping that perhaps he might escape his death, one that is inevitable and fast approaching according to a dream his aunt had. Saint Constance decreed it, so who could argue.
Off heads Pepper to the high seas masquerading (rather successfully to all save one crew member) as his father, a mean man too fond of the drink. From ship's captain to butcher to a VERY short stint in the French Foreign Legion, Pepper changes his name much more often that he changes his clothes. Uproarious adventure ensues. Combine THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, THE TALE OF DESPERAUX, THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF HOMER P. FIGG, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, and the BLOODY JACK series and you have some idea of what is in store. That is also, BTW, my new reading ladder.