CURRENTS by Jane Petrlik Smolik


Age Range: 9 - 12
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Three strong-willed girls from dramatically different backgrounds connect through the contents of a bottle when currents carry it back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean.

Whipped for learning to read and write, 11-year-old Bones, a slave on a Virginia plantation in 1854, removes the entry with her name, birth date, and slave status from the plantation birth register. She tucks it into a sealed bottle with a small carved heart and tosses it into the James River, determined that part of her will “forever be free.” By 1855 the bottle lands on the Isle of Wight, England, where 12-year-old Lady Bess discovers it, removes the heart, and adds her deceased mother’s necklace to prevent her mercenary stepmother from stealing it. Eventually, 12-year-old Irish immigrant Mary Margaret retrieves the bottle from Boston’s harbor in 1856 and uses Bess’ necklace to help her sick sister. Authentic period detail and historic references lend realistic depth to Bones’, Bess’, and Mary Margaret’s engaging individual stories, which, though told separately, are linked by the impact of the traveling bottle on their lives. An illustration of each heroine adds visual context.

A carefully crafted, inspiring 19th-century tale of courage and chance, this novel is a natural for lovers of the past. (map, author’s note, source notes, additional sources) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-58089-648-1
Page count: 326pp
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2015


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