> Skip to content

A strange and mischievous story written with exceptional style, pace and grace — a true classic in the making.

A strange and mischievous story written with exceptional style, pace and grace — a true classic in the making.

It’s 1740 . . . The Firefly is taken in the night by pirates who sail the Caribbean. The ship’s boy and a handful of men are set adrift in a jolly-boat. Without food or water the half-starved men eye up the young boy.
Astonishingly, a mysterious Mr Wicker saves the boy by turning him into an unearthly creature — an invisible flying boy with beautiful emerald-green wings.
When the boy is drawn to a ghost ship sailed by Captain Bass, he learns of the dangerous power of a magical astrolabe which Mr Wicker desperately seeks — and why Wicker must never find it.
The boy cannot trust Wicker . . . but is there anyone he can trust? Captain Bass? Sophie Blade, the pirate’s daughter? And who can return him to himself?

2016 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award

Reviews

Norcliffe is a wordsmith whose fiction writing is infused with his poetic talents. He weaves beautiful and intelligent stories that twist and turn effortlessly until you are surprised to reach the end of the book and realise how many hours have passed. Written for the 10-14 age-bracket, this is sophisticated children’s literature that will delight many adults. If you wish to hide this guilty pleasure, I suggest reading the book to your children.

Nick K, Auckland Libraries Staff Picks

a ripping read, full of ghosts, pirates, things marine in general, an excellent mix of fantasy and history

Weekend Herald

Great storytelling by Norcliffe. His imagery, dialogue and description are outstanding.

Dominion Post Weekend

Beautifully written, this historical adventure with a touch of fantasy keeps the reader wanting to know more . . .

Judges' Report, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Lively and clever

Gillian Vine, Otago Daily Times

Every detail of Norcliffe's story is convincing . . . An historical novel for children with a first-person narrator makes particular demands on the writer, but Norcliffe's prose is exemplary. His language and point-of-view never seem anachronistic, the story rollicks along, and an impatient 10 or 11 year-old would not be unduly challenged by the vocabulary. Norcliffe cares about language and has given the Loblolly Boy a clear and lyrical voice . . . The wonderful and unexpected ending provides an imaginative answer to how one of our great historical figures came to be the man he was.

Eirlys Hunter, New Zealand Books

[A]n exciting pirate adventure

Trevor Agnew, Waikato Times

Great storytelling

Bob Docherty, Dominion Post Weekend

Read More

Formats & editions

  • EBook

    9781775537700

    March 6, 2015

    RHNZ Childrenâ??s ebooks

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • 2015
    New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults
    Shortlisted
  • 2015
    New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award
    Awarded
  • 2016
    Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award
    Awarded

Also by James Norcliffe

Twice Upon a Time
Felix and the Red Rats
The Enchanted Flute
The Loblolly Boy
The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer

Recommendations

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
The Wee Free Men
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Our Australian Girl: The Rose Stories
Ranger's Apprentice 4: Oakleaf Bearers
Our Australian Girl: The Poppy Stories
Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile (BK1)
History Mysteries: Diamond Jack
Midnight Jewel
Alice-Miranda At School 1
Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons series)
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator
Tilly And The Time Machine
If I Stay
Trash
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Why I Love Footy
Old School: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (BK10)
Thirteen Reasons Why
The Witches