If your brother is named Adonis, your sister, Venus and you are named Eggbert, you know you are starting out life at a disadvantage. The disadvantaged youth in this situation is the main character in DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE (G.P. Putnam, March 2013), Book One of Geoff Rodkey’s, The Chronicles of Egg trilogy.
Egg lives on Deadweather Island. Yes, the name does say it all– hot, heavy air is stalled above his volcanic island home. His father runs an ugly fruit plantation with pirate laborers. Egg aches for intellectual stimulation, which he fails to get from the new tutor who is almost as obnoxious, dumb, and lazy as Egg’s siblings. The pirates that populate the waters around the island and the port towns are thieves and murderers, and I appreciated that Rodkey maintained their nefarious ways.
Across the waters is the island of Sunrise where the weather is as beautiful as the people who live and visit. Most beautiful to Eggbert is Millicent Pembroke, 13-year-old daughter of local businessman, Roger Pembroke. Pembroke’s wealth and adoration of Eggbert’s father quickly endears him to their family, but the reader comes to understand that Pembroke’s friendliness may be a cover for a hidden agenda.
There is plenty of humor in Deadweather and Sunrise. At the “street meat” vendor, Eggbert is stuck eating the cheapest fare while his tutor, brother, and sister use most of the money. The following exchange between the tutor and the street vendor had my kids in stitches:
Percy turned his head to look at me. I tried to seem bored, because I knew the hungrier I looked, the crueler his order would be.
“Got any pickled rat?”
I must have looked like I was starving to death.
“Sir, this is a reputable establishment. We serve no rat.”
“What’s your bottom shelf?”
“It’s a mix. Brains, pancreas, bit of spleen–”
“Give us that.”
“Comes on a bun.”
“Skip the bun.”
Say “Bit of spleen,” out loud. Okay, now say it to an 11 and 13-year-old boy. I swear you’ll get belly laughs.
The beginning of the book is a little slow to start. Rodkey is a seasoned screenwriter, Daddy Day Care and RV, and for me the first act included too much scene setting and backstory. Once I got caught up in the story, Rodkey had me rooting for Eggbert. Throughout his journey, Egg meets with all kinds of people. He loses his family, is threatened with death, meets vicious pirates and even more vicious cruise boat tourists. He makes friends, falls in love, finds treasure, and battles the bad guys.
Eggberts growth comes in part from his realization that all of us– wealthy, worker, or pirate– are human and as such, we all have a dark and often self-serving side. At least, he notes, the pirates are what they say they are.
From the Chronicles of Egg press release:
Geoff Rodkey grew up in Freeport, Illinois, a place with no ugly fruit plantations, volcanoes, or gainfully employed pirates, although someone did briefly want to kill him when he was a teenager. He currently lives with his family on an island just off the coast of North America.
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The second in the trilogy, NEW LANDS (May 2013), has already been released.