By Author / Illustrator
David Fickling Books
Ten-year-old Jack is stranded on a desert island with no way to get home. He's been very lucky: he's survived a terrible storm and the mysterious island he has found himself on has a kindly if unusual inhabitant, fresh water and plenty of food. But Jack needs to find his way home, and as he uncovers incredible hidden treasures on the little island, he starts to formulate a plan. A plan that will involve witchcraft, terrifying sea monsters and pirates! But if Jack's going to succeed he will need to be very very lucky.
The Lucky Bottle by Chris Wormell is a wonderful adventure that uncorks a little bit of magic to retell a tale that seems so familiar but is truly unique. Having run away from home and lied about his age, Jack finds himself onboard a ship with a fate of doom. When the storm hits, Jack's boat is shipwrecked but he manages to survive and he is washed up onto a desert island beach - only to discover a skull in the sand. Jack is horrified, but the island seems to be a barren and desolate land apart from a giant tortoise and a giant footprint in the sand!
It is then that Jack then realises that he is not alone on this island. Robinson has been living on the island for many years and so when he discovers Jack, he naturally wants to help him. They share stories of their past, read and roam the island together. Jack is grateful to Robinson, but deep down he misses his family and really wants to go home. So a plan is devised, and Jack's his magical adventure begins…
We can make comparisons with some of the classic canons in literature, such as Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels, but effectively this story is a captivating new story that immerses the reader into a survival mode that stretches the imagination beyond witchcraft, sea monsters, pirates and storms. This book would ignite the adventurous side of any young reader in KS2. Furthermore, its themes of pirates, discovery, perseverance and friendship would be excellent discussion points
308 pages / Reviewed by Hayley Summerfield, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 7+
When Jack finds himself washed up on a seemingly deserted island, he fears that all is lost. Discovering a skull on the beach doesn't help and then to be loomed over by an oversized reptilian monster, he thinks his days are numbered. And then he meets a man, a man who has been surviving on this very island for years, a man who has called himself Robinson after the book he has been reading, a man who has a sumptuous cave full of furniture, books and rum.
Robinson teaches Jack how to survive, how to fish and gather fruits. He teaches Jack how to read and write whilst the days pass by. But Jack longs to go home, he longs to right the wrongs that have got him here. He is desperate to see his family again and try as he might to enjoy the island with Robinson, he just knows he has to get home. And so, he begins to formulate a plan, a plan that involves letters in empty rum bottles, in the vain hope that one day, somebody will find one and set out to rescue him. Every day he waits for a bottle to return, every day disappointed, until one day a bottle washes up on his island and the letter is addressed to him...
In The Lucky Bottle, Chris Wormell has created a wondrous adventure that weaves the magic of familiarity through tales of Robinson Crusoe, The Tempest, Gulliver's Travels, Noah's Gold, and many much-loved tales of pirates. And yet, this story isn't a re-telling of any of these, it is a beautifully paced tale all of its own that draws the reader into the plight of Jack as we will him to one day be reunited with his family, even though we know that there are far too many barriers for him to overcome.
Curriculum links: family, friendship, hope, perseverance, problem solving, loneliness, respect, love, pirates, and the magic of story telling.
304 pages / Reviewed by Donna Burkert, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 7+