by David Ives
Recommended Age: 12+
The 21 inhabitants of MacOongafoondsen are isolated from the rest of the world. Cast down on a secluded shore between a haunted castle and the feared sea, they have lived for generations without any experience of the outside world. Then a ship washes ashore with no one on board but a strangely hairy “Frenchman” who is actually – spoiler warning – a chimpanzee.
Some of the leading citizens accuse Samuel, a.k.a. Monsieur Eek, of being a thief and worthy to be hanged. But a compassionate, fairminded girl named Emmaline and her best friend, Young Flurp the Town Fool, try to defend Samuel. Their fast-paced adventure includes not only a struggle against injustice, but also a fight for survival, an encounter with a ghost, a crossing from childhood to adulthood, and a bit of youthful romance. The story also touches on issues like your right to choose your own identity, and the costs of having a worldview limited to petty, local affairs.
Though not a flawless story, I recommend Monsieur Eek as a charming, heart-warming, and often funny tale that will leave young readers with something to think about and talk about.