STOWAWAY

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. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83987-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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