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  • Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves
  • Written by Carol Hughes
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307486493
  • Our Price: $5.99
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Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves

Written by Carol HughesAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Carol Hughes


List Price: $5.99


On Sale: December 30, 2008
Pages: 240 | ISBN: 978-0-307-48649-3
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves Cover

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Jack Black is thrilled when his father, the captain of the largest airship in the world, invites him on the ship’s maiden voyage. Once aloft, Jack overhears a plot to sabotage the ship. But before he can tell his father, Jack falls, plummeting through the air to be caught in the sails of a pirate ship. Now Jack must try to convince a crew of thieves to rescue his father. . . .

In this robust blend of fantasy and whirlwind adventure, Carol Hughes confronts the difficult, real-life issues of trust, loyalty, and deception.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


The Bellerophon

Jack Black ran up the hill and paused at the top to catch his breath.

Before him lay the airfield with its rust-colored airstrip, wooden buildings, canvas
tents, herd of sheep (to keep the grass short) and tall mooring mast. Looming over it all was the giant airship hangar. The hangar was five hundred feet high and more than one thousand feet long. It was so huge it could create its own weather, but even so, it was only just big enough to house the Bellerophon, the largest airship in the world. Five times bigger than the biggest blimp and faster than an ocean liner, the Belle was magnificent. It was hard to see her full glory, housed in the hangar as she was with men swarming about her, obscuring her with their scaffolds and ladders. But Jack had seen' her when she'd been out on test

runs, when the helium in her gas cells lifted her high above the airfield. Then the sun had bounced off her silver skin and dazzled all who'd seen her. She was an aweinspiring sight, almost a thousand feet long and three hundred feet high, and, best of all, Jack's father, Captain Henry Hugo Black, was to be her captain.

Jack set off down the hill, but the sudden roar of a plane overhead made him stop and turn sharply.

The plane, a bright yellow Berger 17, shot past.

"Gadfly!" yelled Jack, waving frantically at the famous aviator's plane. "Gadfly's back!"

The yellow plane landed neatly, red dust from the airstrip rising behind it. By the time Jack reached the hangar, the yellow plane was taxiing to a stop.

Jack caught up with it and jumped onto the wing. He clung to the edge of the cockpit and laughed as he tried to pull the goggles off the pilot's face.

"Gadfly, ya varmint," he yelled at the top of his lungs. "I'm commandeering this plane. Hand it over!"

"Why, you little rotter," laughed Gadfly. "I'll teach you to go climbing on my plane." He grabbed hold of the back of Jack's belt, pulled him into the cockpit headfirst, and began to wallop him on the backside with his big gloved hand. "Putting your footprints all over the Viper's pretty wings. Blunt won't be happy having to clean this off."

With an effort, Jack pulled himself upright and shot a glance at Gadfly's mechanic, Blunt, who sat in the rear cockpit bundled in flying jacket, helmet, and goggles. All Jack could see of Blunt's face was his sour, down-turned mouth.

"Hello, Blunt," said Jack cheerily. "Didn't see you there. How are you?'

Blunt just stared through Jack as though he didn't exist. Jack shrugged and leaned close to Gadfly's ear.

"Blunt wouldn't be happy if he won a diamond tiara in a raffle."

"Shhhh, hissed Gadfly. "He's the best mechanic in the world, and I'm not going to lose him just because you don't like his looks. Besides, you never know, a tiara might suit him."

Jack burst out laughing again.

As Gadfly brought the plane into the shadow of the giant hangar, Jack jumped down and ran to see the Belle. He knew every inch of her by heart: the twenty-four engines arranged twelve along each side, the four tail fins, the main gondola suspended beneath her belly. He stared up at the men climbing over the hull and tried to imagine what it would be like when the airship was thousands of feet above the world, cutting through the clouds. The rudders on her tail fins would shift slightly, and the Belle would respond by turning in a wide, graceful arc. Jack smiled. Fast planes like Gadfly's were his first love for sure, but the Belleropbon was special in a different way.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Carol Hughes

About Carol Hughes

Carol Hughes - Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves

Photo © Marcy Malloy

Carol Hughes was born in Yorkshire, England, and grew up in a seaside town in Lancashire. She now lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter.


My world upside down . . .

I have been a writer my whole life, but oddly enough I didn’t realize it until I was grown up. Looking back I can see that I was always writing and making up stories. I always loved writing essays at school and, when I went to art college, I filled my sketchbooks with stories instead of drawings.

In my late twenties, I met my husband. He turned my world upside down by pointing out to me that, as I was forever writing, perhaps I ought to try my hand at writing a book. Amazed by this revelation, I wrote Toots and the Upside-Down House and Jack Black & the Ship of Thieves.

All I had to do was go for it . . .

I have been incredibly lucky in my life. For starters, my parents always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be—all I had to do was go for it. They always encouraged and supported me in all the mad, often nutty, schemes I dreamed up.

The only real difficulty I ever faced was when, for some reason, I lost all my confidence. It was terrible. For almost a year I couldn’t write anything and everything I tried to write was awful. Then a friend, another writer, gave me an incredibly useful piece of advice. She said “Just give yourself permission to write really badly and then get on with it.” So that was what I did. Everyday I wrote. Most of it was dreadful, but the more I wrote the less I worried about whether it was any good or not. And after a while I began to enjoy writing again. That episode showed me that you have to find the fun in what you are doing—otherwise, what’s the point?

I do all my acting on the page instead of in the spotlight . . .

In school I always wanted to be an actor, but I was very shy so, instead of getting up and acting characters out on a stage, I started inventing them in my notebooks and diaries. Even now I sometimes think I am really an actor, but I do all my acting on the page instead of in the spotlight.

When I’m writing new characters, the actor in me emerges. I suppose all the characters must, in some way, be part of me (even the horrid, mean, and conniving ones like Gadfly or Sabrina) and, when I write about them, I get to see what it would be like to be that way for a while. The really horrible characters are the most fun to write. The Maggo sisters in Toots Underground are my favorites. I didn’t have to do any work to find out who they were—one day they started talking and I just copied down what they said.

I love strong, capable characters . . .

I’m probably most similar to Toots. Like her, I tend to take the long way round to learning life’s important lessons and, like Toots, I often get in my own way. I wish I were more like Olive Brown. She’s so kind and positive and good-tempered. Of course, if I could be anyone, I’d like to be the kind of self-sufficient lady who could support herself on a desert isle like Dorothy Dobson in Jack Black or, if I were very daring, I’d be an adventurous aviatrix like Beryl. I love strong, capable characters.

I spent a lot of time searching for secret passageways and hidden worlds . . .

When I was little, my parents kept a small hotel that had 20 bedrooms. It was a fantastic place to grow up. All summer it was full of guests, but in the winter it was closed and I had the run of the whole place. I remember I spent a lot of time searching for secret passageways and hidden worlds. My favorite book back then was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and you’d think, wouldn’t you, that in a hotel with 20 huge, old-fashioned wardrobes at least one of them would lead to Narnia.

Most often the starting point for my stories is my desire to go somewhere I can’t physically go. I began Toots and the Upside-Down House because I wanted to visit the ceiling and see what it would feel like if my world was turned upside down. Once I started writing it, I got to go inside the walls of the house and discover the bits of buildings we don’t normally see. With Jack Black & the Ship of Thieves, all I knew was that I wanted to fly on an airship and the whole story grew from that one desire.


“Sailing through the skies or sailing through the seas, the action never stops.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“With a swashbuckling style and an imagination in overdrive, Hughes grabs readers on page one and never lets go.”—Publishers Weekly

“Successfully [combines] humor, adventure, and serious issues such as loyalty and honesty.”—Booklist


"With a swashbuckling style and an imagination in overdrive, Hughes grabs readers on page one and never lets go." --Publishers Weekly

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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