'Once there was a boy called Horrendo who was cursed at birth with a spell that left him able to say only kind words. Everyone else in his village has a sharp face and a tongue like a whip. They spew insults at one another and never bother to say "thank you" or "please."
Each autumn, pirates come to the village and steal all the twelve-year-old boys to be their slaves. Despite all their lessons in Herculean Headlocks, Deadly Insults, and Oar Throwing, Horrendo and the other boys succumb to the might of the hated pirates. Aboard ship, the merciless captain and his crew of pirates work the boys to the bone.
A cunning escape plan is hatched that involves a hazardous journey. Not all goes exactly to plan, however, as the boys are unexpectedly reunited with their foes. But the boys' determination to return home is finally rewarded, though the village is never to be the same again' (Source: bookseller's website).