Drake's Drummer Boy: A Tudor Sea Story
This is a children's novella about a poor Plymouth boy who is recruited by Drake to be his drummer on the circumnavigation. Will Thatcher becomes a friend of John Brewer and Diego, with Tom Moone as his mentor. Thus we largely see Drake through the eyes of his crew as a strict disciplinarian but compassionate, understanding and funny. Pauline Francis has done her research well; the book is accurate, interesting, well written and with excellent characterisation.
The prose is peppered with one-liners such as: "He always wanted to go on the Pacific, ever since he climbed that tree!", stated by Tom Moone and Drake's wry comment, "That's no Queen, that's my wife."
The book deals fairly with the Doughty incident and shows Drake's human side; his grief for Diego's death; his pleasure when Will finally finds a silver monkey and the affection between himself and his wife.
The book does rather underline the drum's reputed magical powers and it is sad at the end when it fast-forwards fifteen years to Drake's death.
I asked several children and young people to read this book and give it a mark out of ten; due to unanimous enjoyment nobody awarded a mark below eight. Even at my middle age, I must admit I enjoyed this excellent read.