In a ship that is stuck on the highest dune in the city lives a small boy with a big captain’s hat and a brass trumpet, waiting for the big wave that will lift his ship and wash it back onto the sea. And when that moment finally comes, a few of the town’s children follow him on his quest to find the lost members of the Gray Skipper’s crew.
As classic Dutch children’s tales go, The Little Captain is near the top of the list. It is full of great children’s logic, iconic and sassy characters, flailing adults and clever kids. It recounts the tale of the Nooitlek (‘neverleaky’), the little steam ship carrying the little captain and three other children across the sea towards the Island of Great and Growing, where they can become grown-ups in a single day, so they can do what they want everyday. And on the way, they’ll look for the missing crew of the Gray Skipper, whose men were scattered in a storm long ago and who have never been seen since.
I love this little book so much. There are so many iconic elements: The little ship, the copper propellor, the six-bucket steampipe, the pancake-eating cods… I started smiling the moment I started my reread, and the smile never left my face. There are no heavy themes in this book, only the virtues of bravery and having fun. 100% recommendation for children up to about 10 years, who love silly sea-tales and would love to hear about brave, sassy little kids sticking it to the silly adults.