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THE SECRET JOURNEY by Peg Kehret

THE SECRET JOURNEY

By Peg Kehret

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-671-03416-2

Taking a page from Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1990), Kehret (I’m Not Who You Think I Am, p. 223, etc.) pens a similar story of a girl who goes to sea. Determined not to be separated from her seriously ill mother, Emma, 12, embarks on a plan that results in the adventure of a lifetime. Sent to live with Aunt Martha and her arrogant son, Odolf, Emma carefully plots her escape. Disguising herself in her cousin’s used clothes, she sneaks out while the household slumbers and stows away on what she believes to be a ship carrying her parents from England to the warmer climate of France. Instead, the ship is the evil, ill-fated Black Lightning, under the command of the notorious Captain Beacon. Emma finds herself sharing quarters with a crew of filthy, surly, dangerous men. When a fierce storm swamps the ship, Emma desperately seizes her chance to escape, drifting for several days and nights aboard a hatch cover and finally carried to land somewhere on the coast of Africa. Hungry, thirsty, and alone, Emma faces the daunting prospect of slow starvation, but survives due to a relationship she builds with a band of chimpanzees. This page-turning adventure story shows evidence of solid research and experienced plotting—the pacing is breathless. Kehret paints a starkly realistic portrait, complete with sounds and smells of the difficult and unpleasant life aboard ship. (Fiction. 8-12)