This is one of those worthy, competently told historical stories, with an authentic, well-integrated setting and a workable plot device that holds it together--but not a breath of independent life. Adam is the son of a South Street merchant hack in 1818, and his dearest wish is to go to sea--but ""Pa said it was hopeless. . . when your left leg was too short and you limped when you walked."" Then Adam borrows the African wishing charm of his father's young black apprentice--Adam's ""best friend"" though he calls him ""Master Adam""--and sure enough the charm does land him on a ship bound for England. Never mind that Pa comes rowing out to fetch him home before the pilot boat takes the ship past Sandy Hook--Adam is as sure as Moskin's italics can make him that he can be a sailor some day and that somehow he's proved that to Pa. It's the sort of story that social studies teachers might put on lists--but so thin that it will need such sanctions to be read at all.