Cover Image: The Ship of Stolen Words

The Ship of Stolen Words

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

11-and-a-half-year-old, Sam Culver is an adventure seeker and often says things he shouldn't. While he likes to  use insincere sorries as get-out-of-trouble card,s he finds himself in hot water when he can’t say it for real to his best friend, Mason.  His attempts to recover the missing phrase lead him through a portal into the marshlands. Here, carelessly used and misplaced words mined from Earth are used for myriad purposes, including technology and industrialization. To stop a ruthless cabal of word prospectors, Sam must work with Tolver, the goblin to swipe every empty utterance from his home. Will he repair his friendship? Will he be able to stop the word prospectors? The plot is unique. The world building is complex. The characters are diverse. Readers will be drawn in by the piracy, mechanical flying pigs, and elaborate goblin traps. Readers who like action, adventure, and fantasy will enjoy reading this book. Recommended for most library collections.
Was this review helpful?
I found this middle grade fantasy a bit slow moving, at least for the first half of the book, and while I appreciate the unique premise of a world powered by over-used words, like the word "sorry" that Sam spends the book trying to retrieve, at times I struggled to suspend disbelief.  It also came across a bit didactic:  be careful how you use your words.  The end of the book, as Sam and his Boglin friends try to stop the prospectors, picks up with engaging action.  A good, but not great middle grade novel.
Was this review helpful?
A charming portal fantasy that uses humor to explore the true power of words. So many important words are used carelessly and without meaning, and Sam learns this the hard way.

It's a smart, funny adventure that wordy kids (and adults) will love.
Was this review helpful?
This book surprised me! Such a fabulous combination of heartwarming and twisty-turny! I thought it would be a cute little journey with some light action and lots of beastly references. Now, don't get me wrong, it had lots of cute critters and descriptions that really brought us down into this tunneling, towering world of the Goblins. And there was terrific imagery that put us right into a big adventure across the creek into unknown lands. There are plenty of daring escapes and close calls to keep readers on the edges of their seats. The natural world is described in such rich and vivid detail. And the friends and alliances the main characters makes in the course of their quest are unexpected and absolutely delightful.
Full review to come on my YouTube channel.
Was this review helpful?
11-year-old, Sam Culver has been unable to say he’s sorry ever since a strange encounter with an old lady and her pig. It’s never been a problem until now. However, after making an insensitive comment that hurts the feelings of his brown-skinned friend, Mason, Sam longs to say he’s sorry. The school expects him to, but no matter what he does, the words won’t come out. To get out of hot water and with the help of supportive adults, Sam embarks on a journey into the world of goblin word thieves to get back his word. The family and friend dynamics are well developed and play a big part in the character’s development. The character experiences a lot of growth and grows on the reader. Twists and turns keep the readers engaged while teaching them an important lesson. Fans of The Far Edge Chronicles, Nevermoor, and Fablehaven series will enjoy reading this book. The book is filled with diverse characters from all different backgrounds. Recommended for libraries where magical realism, fantasy, and adventure are popular. 4 stars, Grades 3 to 7 

Please note: This was a review copy given to us by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No financial compensation was received.
Was this review helpful?
A wonderful book that offers children a chance to reflect upon the words they use and how they use them. From "I'm sorry" to "I love you" the power and magic of words, the right words, shines in this charming fantasy for middle graders.

Links provided soon.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks Netgalley and Abrams Kids for access to this arc. 

This is certainly a book that will capture the interest of middle school age children but maybe not initially because of the stolen words. There’s a nice mix of the everyday of Sam’s life and family with the fantastic of the hidden goblin world. I think maybe nine to eleven year olds would like it but much younger than that and I don’t think the children would sit through all the world building nor understand the message being given. 

There is a lot of description that has to be included as this is not a bog standard middle grade fantasy. The way that the goblin world works, why they do what they do, and how this in turn affects human speech has to be spelled out and for a while, it seemed as if it was a never ending explanation with ever more things that had to be included. I will admit that my eyes crossed a time or two. 

Several messages wind through the story. The goblin grandmother and grandson do things the old fashioned way, the simple way that takes patience. But Tulver is young and impatient – he wants things now and done faster although there is a good reason, to help his Nan. Sam gets a little lesson in the meaning of words and that words that are sometimes taken for granted shouldn’t be. Sam also realizes that he’s taken his friendship with Mason for granted at times. Everyone learns about honoring promises and working together, coming to understand the power of words and not to overuse certain ones.  

I loved a lot of the relationships in the book. Sam has a great family with a father who listens to him, a stepmother who isn’t evil and a cute younger sister. Sam’s teacher also obviously cares for her students. Nan and Tulver, the grandmother and grandson goblins, have a tight knit relationship and are devoted to each other. 

The messages get a touch preachy at times, the world building drags on a bit, and at the end when I think about it, I’m not entirely sure that Sam’s town is safe from further word predation. Yet I enjoyed the characters of the book and how inventive it all is. Let’s give the goblins the annual “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness” compiled by Lake Superior State University – starting with “pandemic.”  C+/B-
Was this review helpful?
“The Ship of Stolen Words” is a highly entertaining energetic story that plays on the imaginative.  We all know what it feels like to have our words stolen, to feel as if we cannot say what we want, now just imagine if our words could be physically stolen from us. 

Fran Wilde does a great job inviting us into a world where we must not waste our words. She teaches us that our words have power and just like with all other power they must be used wisely. We all know those people (ourselves included) that say things they really do not mean. When you say words without any meaning behind them, they lose their power. 

Highly recommend for anyone to read this fun, witty, breathtaking story. Just make sure you are being careful with the words you say.
Was this review helpful?
This is a cool adventure story, the concept of magically stolen words and the chaos that brings is a great idea. The settings of the close knit town and rapidly industrializing goblin world were both well written. I also really enjoyed the natural beauty of the islands in the goblin world which also were a great contrast to the city and the massive air ships. The magic system was fascinating; I appreciated the way the goblin world ran on a mix of magic and machinery. It was even more compelling to see how it worked in the human world. Showing how the main human and goblin characters went from advisories to allies as they began to understand each other was well done and gave some great character development. This cast of characters kept me thoroughly engaged throughout the story.
Was this review helpful?
Words have magic in them, but one must be careful with how they are used. Sam Culver is counting the minutes until his school lets out for summer vacation. Disappointingly, though, he and his former best friend Mason have been struggling to maintain an amicable relationship, and when an important word goes missing from Sam’s vocabulary, he gets in big trouble. In order to find his missing word and get started on his long awaited summer, Sam must embark on an incredible adventure filled with goblins, pirates, and unlikely companions.

This middle grade story is filled with action and adventure, engaging readers in its fast-paced narrative. Within the element of travel to a parallel world, Sam works hard to come to terms with what apologies really sound like and how he can treat others with more kindness and respect. The messages within this story are profound and universal, connecting readers of all ages to the words they use every day.

Written for a confident middle grade audience, this book utilizes complex vocabulary and longer chapters to tell the story. However, the dialogue and overall premise of the plot are recognizable and easy to digest, making this a great fit for independent middle grade readers. Fantasy elements like magic and goblins are included to spice up the narrative, increasing its appeal to children who enjoy an escape from reality.

Compelling, action-centered sequences propel this dynamic narrative, enhancing the reminder that words have meaning, especially when used correctly. It is easy to overuse certain words, and in the case of this story, words disappear when that happens. Through friendship and adventure, readers experience Sam’s mistakes along with him and will think twice before they next interact with others. This is an enjoyable read for middle grade children and contains a profound reminder of how to treat others to make the world a better place.
Was this review helpful?
Here we have a boy messing everything up and a boggling messaging everything up. I like seeing this story from these two completely opposite points of view and love that one of them is not human. It really adds to the fantasy parts of the story. This was a fun middle grade read that reminds me of The Train to Impossible Places.
Was this review helpful?
Words hold power for good or bad so choose your words wisely.  Sam learns this lesson the hard way when a goblin comes and steals his words that he uses carelessly. In the goblin world words are used as currency and to power ships, Tolver, the goblin uses those words to try and buy the island he has his grandmother live on and dreams of adventure. When Sam tries to get his words back from the goblin Sam unknowingly goes through a portal into the goblins world. Tolver dreamed of adventure but not this kind of adventure. Can Sam get his words back and can Tolver save his home?  I feel readers grades 4-6 will enjoy this story. 

Thank you to NetGalley and publisher for an eARC of this book in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A well-built world with a terrific premise: Goblins who steal words! Words as builders of the magic in the fantasy world! So many many wonderfully sweet relationships! Siblings being kind to one another, a grandparent raising grandchild gently and kindly, a positive stepparent relationship, a teacher who believes children. There is so much to love here There is even a sensitive mention of parental loss. All of which is why it's extremely disappointing that the plot turns preachy WAY too often, with "words you don't mean" and a huge object lesson in the importance of apologies. Sigh. Still, there were fun bits.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the author and publisher for an eARC of this book.

How would your world be different if you suddenly lost the ability to say a word on which you frequently relied? Sam’s parents and principal are angry and refuse to let him play summer baseball until he says “sorry” to apologize to his best friend, but they don’t understand that the words he needs have vanished. When his sister’s “sorry” also disappears, Sam discovers a white pig, an older woman with a stick, and a green boy with silver hair who disappear through the neighbourhood Little Free Library are responsible for stealing words. Sam accidentally finds himself in the goblin world when he chases them to get their words back. Sam and Tolver, a word-boglin, strike a deal to help each other but quickly end up over their heads against goblin prospectors, who are also hunting down words to convert them to resources to fuel their ships and machines. Soon it’s not just about saving a few words but saving a whole community from losing their words forever.

I found this an imaginative and entertaining story to read. The characters were colourful, and I particularly enjoyed watching everyone come to value the power of words. The relationship between Sam and his five-year-old sister, Bella, was heartwarming; her devotion to her big brother touched me. I liked the goblin world and how the story addressed the drawbacks of technological advancements from greed. I loved the magic of the Little Free Library and wanted to help Mrs. Lockheart protect it and replant flowers on multiple occasions. 

I would recommend THE SHIP OF STOLEN WORDS for Gr. 5-7, and I think it will appeal to fantasy lovers who enjoy portal stories into other worlds to fix problems in the human world. Although I enjoyed this book, the overall length and long chapters will keep me from purchasing it for my collection.
Was this review helpful?
This story takes us on an adventure chasing down words that have gone missing after being misused and abused. We all have the tendency to throw words around in haste. If we had goblins stealing our words, we might be more careful in how we use them. Especially ones that are magic (I.e. please, thank you, sorry). These characters and the lessons in these pages will stick with me for some time.

Thank you to the publisher through Netgalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
Charming fantasy with a powerful punch: words matter. Fast-paced  with a lot on the line and fully realized worlds will hook readers from the get-go. Fans of Natalie Lloyd's Over the Moon will likely enjoy this adventure story.
Was this review helpful?
Wilde is a master in writing not only complicated and deep situations but writing complicated and deep situations easily digestible for the younger audience. This story begins with Sam, a boy who lets slip sorry whenever in a pinch, whether he means it or not, and our other hero, Tolver, a young goblin who sets out to quickly and efficiently steal as many words as he can. Sam loses his ability to apologize when Tolver steals his words right before he can say sorry to his friend Mason. Cue Sam's venture into the goblin world and Tolver's unfortunate dealings with the prospectors. 

This delightful tale of a boy and a goblin brings so much to cheer for: friendship, empathy, and even language. Wilde weaves in the importance of intention and the way in which our words have power. Each character introduced has their own gift and way of seeing the world, and as Sam continues on his quest, we see he learns much about how it's okay to make mistakes but to learn from those mistakes. 

I'd probably pitch this book to my 5th-7th grade crowd. So often do I hear awesome, amazing, sorry, and love thrown around. I am just as guilty, but I believe this book truly makes a person think before they speak, to consider that language is so much more than just words and sounds. That it's okay to stumble as you learn the language but to think before you say, and mean what you say. 

Truly a magical read. I thought Wilde's imagination (as in her other works) was astounding. Mechanical pigs, floating goblin cities, and portals found in unexpected places. All these make for an enjoyable read.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a fun and whimsical read, perfect for younger readers who are interested in magic and adventures. The plot was easy to follow but still had some complexity to it, the characters and the worlds were fun. Definitely recommend!
Was this review helpful?
This book was fantastic!  It was full of whimsy and imagination.  I loved the adventures between worlds and the dynamics between characters.  It would be an amazing book to read aloud and pair with discussions about vocabulary and the importance of words.  I cannot wait to add it to my classroom library.
Was this review helpful?
A fantastic adventure with a focus on the unique powers and abilities of words (two words, to be precise). Packed with humor against a backdrop of exploration and discovery, readers will be wanting more!
Was this review helpful?