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Thursday, December 6, 2012


Middle-grade fiction
Orchard Books, 1990
240 pages, $6.99 (paperback)
Newbery Honor Book

This is one of those books that seem to find their way to reading lists and and English classes, probably because of its many distinctions (Newbery Honor, ALA Notable Book, etc., etc.). But don't let that put you off. (Yes, sometimes I too am put off by awards. Some of those books are so serious.) This book is part mystery, part sailing adventure, and partly the story of a girl who defies the conventions of her time. Charlotte is a girl traveling alone to America from England with a rough crew of sailors in 1832. While she makes friends on the boat, soon it becomes obvious that the captain is unstable and Charlotte could find herself in grave danger.

The plot moves along rapidly--I blew through the 240 pages to learn what would happen to Charlotte--and as always, Avi's writing carries the story, illuminating every detail. Some reviewers have objected to the ending, calling it unrealistic, and I can certainly see their point. But that didn't much bother me. (No spoilers, sorry.) I just enjoyed the quick-moving tale and the well-drawn characters. A great read for any age!

My goal is to post a review of a middle-grade novel I really enjoyed on the first Thursday of every month. Search for more recommendations using the tag Recommended Reading.

The Countdown to Pub Day Party is on! Enter this month's giveaway here.

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