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Red Sails to Capri by Ann Weil
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Red Sails to Capri

by Ann Weil

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Michele sees the boat with the red sails and finds a way to lead the passengers to stay at his parents’ inn. The three men on this boat will forever change Capri. There is a mystery. There is action. There is adventure. There is the exotic atmosphere of faraway Capri. ( )
  debnance | Jan 29, 2010 |
I thoroughly enjoyed Red Sails to Capri. The village of Capri has agreed not to even mention a mysterious cove, until three visitors convince a young teenager and his family to discover the truth. Some of the subtle humor will be missed on a young child who nonetheless enjoys the story. With strong characterization, good humor, and an exciting plot with some depth, it will likely grow with a child.
  mebrock | Jan 27, 2009 |
Ann Weil's Red Sails to Capri was a childhood favorite of mine, back when I was unsophisticated enough to like books without knowing precisely why. It's a Newbery Honor book and so well-written, a little pearl of a story with memorable characters delineated in just a few words. Rereading it as an adult, I know now why I loved this book as a child.

Michele Pagano is the son of the innkeeper on the little island of Capri, about fifteen miles from Naples. It is 1826. Though his family is poor, Michele has a good life, but sometimes it can be rather monotonous. He is excited one day to see a boat with glorious red sails coming to Capri in the off-season. The boat carries three gentlemen who come to stay at the inn: Lord Derby, an English artist in search of beauty; Monsieur Jacques, a Frenchman in search of adventure; and Herr Nordstrom, a German philosopher in search of truth. The three come to stay at the Paganos' inn. Lord Derby and Herr Nordstrom are able to keep themselves amused, but Monsieur Jacques is restless on the sleepy little island. He and the boys, Michele and Michele's best friend Pietro, take the boat with red sails on a sail around the island. By strange fortune, Monsieur Jacques wants to visit a peaceful-looking cove that is held in superstitious fear by the islanders. Michele persuades him to move on, but the damage is done.

Soon afterwards, Monsieur Jacques asks Signor Pagano what the story is behind the cove. Though he is loath to speak of it, Signor Pagano tells the story of how, long ago, two priests swum out to the cove to explore the mystery. They died that night, muttering broken words about liquid fire and blue ice. And since their deaths, the islanders have given the evil cove a wide berth. Of course the gentlemen are now determined to explore it and dispel the myths — especially Herr Nordstrom, who sees it as the culmination of his lifelong search for truth. Signor Pagano and Michele are drawn in to the excitement of exploring the mystery, and it is decided that they will set off in three boats as soon as Michele's fisherman friend Angelo can find them.

But Signora Pagano isn't happy about the arrangement. She stages a domestic mutiny and refuses to cook or clean for the men, but they are undeterred. The sly humor and gentle sarcasm in this part is very funny and very realistic. I love the part when Signor Pagano is explaining to his wife why he is allowing Michele to go. He is a poor man, he says, and he cannot give his son anything in the way of material goods. But what he can give him is an adventure, something to be proud of and to tell his grandchildren about.

So what do they find in the mysterious cove? You will have to read it to find out. It's worth the exploration.

The copy I found at the thrift store is just perfect. It was a school library copy, but doesn't appear to have been much read. It's a 1967 hardback and the cloth cover has the title and an illustration embossed on it. And the pages are so delightfully thick! I enjoyed the physical experience of reading the book almost as much as the mental. They don't make books like that any more; nowadays even hardbacks have cheap binding and paper.

This is a fairly quick read, but you will remember the characters and events long afterwards. It's very simply written, but it never talks down to the reader, and I really enjoyed the style and tone. I highly recommend this book, and I can't wait to share it with my children. ( )
  wisewoman | Oct 20, 2008 |
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The minute he saw the boat with the red sails moving into the harbor, Michele knew that something exciting was going to happen.

It was the biggest and most beautiful ship fourteen-year-old Michele had ever seen. Sailing on the ship were three men who would come to stay at Michele's parents' inn. The men said they were searching - one for beauty, one for adventure, and one for "something difficult to explain." What they brought with them was a mystery and adventure that would change Michele's life - and all of Capri - forever.
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Fourteen-year-old Michele Pagano lives in a little village on the island of Capri. On the day that three strangers arrive and stay at his parents' inn, an incredible adventure and mystery begin.

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