My oldest daughter and I have been reading the advanced copies of middle grade books that I receive from Netgalley. I wanted to be able to include my twins, who are a little too young for middle grade books. So, my twins and I have been reading books from the Best Book Club Ever. You might remember these books from the late 1970s and early 1980s. They have been picking one book each night, and I have been enjoying rediscovering some childhood favorites.

Uncle Louie’s Fantastic Sea Voyage was written by Jan Loof, and it was originally published in 1977.

Rusty is a young boy who enjoys tinkering with things. As the story begins, Rusty’s parents are going away, and are leaving him with his Uncle Louie. Rusty is pleased with this; his uncle has a scrap yard, and also enjoys tinkering. Uncle Louie has a grand plan to sail to Africa in a paddle streamer that he is building himself. Rusty meets Uncle Louie’s friend Millstone, who looks very mysterious. Rusty stows away on the boat, and sees Millstone casting some magical spells- but can the boat and the spells really take them all the way to Africa?

This is another book with very memorable illustrations. I remembered them from thirty years ago! The illustrations are rendered in a very realistic style, and there are lots of little details to look at. Of course, there’s also that mysterious element: Millstone looks just like Frankenstein’s monster, lives in a dilapidated water mill, and plays spooky music on a pipe organ!

My girls enjoyed reading this book. One twin was sure that they had really sailed to Africa, and the other remained skeptical. I won’t give away which girl was correct, but this is a wonderful story with elements of mystery and adventure. I don’t think Rusty will forget his visit with Uncle Louie anytime soon!

I would recommend Uncle Louie’s Fantastic Sea Voyage. This book has been out of print for years, but used copies are readily available on Amazon. This is a fun story that will appeal to children in the early years of elementary school.




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