Scott Nash, the author of The High-Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate, is a bird lover; however, in his creative mind he just doesn’t see birds on his windowsill. He sees daring pirates in full dress, valiant warriors, adventurers, thieves, and murderers. When I started the book, my brain had a hard time wrapping around the idea that the sky was an airy ocean where birds in full dress were sailing ships back and forth. However, once the characters were introduced and involved in their first crisis, I was hooked. The reader soon realizes that the characters are true to their natural personalities. For example, Blue Jay the Pirate, the main character, is intelligent, cocky, and clever. Henry and Billy, young sparrows, are excitable and foolhardy. Teach, a crow, is tricky and ruthless.
For a children’s adventure novel, High-Skies is surprisingly complex. There are several plotlines developing at the same time, but the main story is built around the capture of Blue Jay’s ship by another pirate and the attempts to regain it. Into this basic story are woven surviving underground, being hunted by weasels and fishers, and finding a very large egg which turns the tide at the climax of the story. Many of the characters have their own background stories. Other animals appear as characters in the book–from bats to a timid star-nosed mole who proves to be an unlikely hero. There is plenty of fighting and some death, as every authentic pirate story requires.
Mr. Nash has been highly successful as an illustrator, a professor, and a designer, prior to publishing this first novel. He is the illustrator in Rachel Vail’s book Over the Moon; his illustrations in this novel enhance an already interesting story and build credibility for the characters. He contributed to the development of Nickelodeon’s band identity as well as designing the monthly typography for MTV.
Young readers will like the story once they get into the action; they will need to be mature enough to understand that animals die. After all, this is a story of survival. When they finish the book, they will not be able to look at a bird the same way again.
Violence/Gore: Many characters are involved in 2 battle scenes in which some are killed but with no blood depiction; 3 characters are killed in a short scene but without detailed description.
Mature Subject Matter:
War; death of friends; crime and illegal activities: robbery/thieving.
Alcohol / Drug Use: