STOWAWAY by Karen Hesse
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STOWAWAY

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 10 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Presented in diary format, this is the story of 11-year-old Nicholas Young’s 1768 voyage as a stowaway on Captain Cook’s ship Endeavor. Hesse uses the few facts known about Nick, as well as the actual journals of Cook and naturalist Joseph Banks, as sources for her account of their three-year voyage to explore and chart the South Pacific. Nick has run away from the casual cruelty of a father who is disappointed in his son’s lack of scholarship and has been apprenticed to “the Butcher” to toughen him up. Throughout, he is haunted by the nightmarish Butcher, whose memory is evoked by the brutish Midshipman Bootie. In the course of the voyage, Nick is made a Surgeon’s assistant and gains the crew’s acceptance. He grows into a skilled young man who recognizes his strengths and is prepared to hold his head up and make amends to the people he has disappointed. Renowned for her spare, poetic style (Out of the Dust, 1997, Newbery Medal), Hesse is just as successful telling a story rich in detail that is reflective in style and content of an 18th-century journal. Here the beauty of her language is at the service of such phenomena as a show of porpoises and the almost-human scream of the Endeavor as it is impaled on a coral reef. So adept is the pacing that, like a sea voyage, sometimes Nick’s journal entries are as prosaic as days at sea and sometimes entries become almost staccato as the action drives the reader forward. Ink-and-wash drawings by Robert Andrew Parker are appropriate to the classic genre of sea adventure. In a lucid, readable style, free of excessive nautical jargon, Hesse simultaneously takes readers along on one of history’s greatest enterprises, and introduces them to one of history’s most prodigious natural leaders. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-689-83987-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2000




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