A SAILOR RETURNS by Theodore Taylor
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 9 - 12
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Taylor (The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown, 1998, etc.) returns with a touching novel about the endurance and power of family ties. Set in coastal Virginia in 1914, the story tells of the sudden appearance of Thomas “Chips” Pentreath, an old Cornish seaman who is the grandfather of 11-year-old Evan Bryant, a boy who had no idea that the man was still alive. Neither did anyone else in Evan’s family. Old Tom had abandoned his daughter, Evan’s mother, some three decades before and has been assumed dead for years. Now, ill and in the waning years of his life, wanting to make amends, and having finally tracked down his long-lost family, Tom arrives in their midst from his home in Brooklyn and proceeds to touch the lives of everyone he meets in powerful, irrevocable ways. All is not completely joyous in this reunion, however. Through Tom’s interior monologue and the voice of the omnipotent narrator, readers learn early on that Tom harbors a terrible secret, one that he eventually reveals, to his family’s shock, when he is wrongfully arrested for murder. By this time, though, he has made such a life-affirming impact upon his family that they can forgive even egregious sins of the past. Like Evan’s friend Buddy, readers will want a grandfather like this, one who mesmerizes his listeners with stories of sea adventure and travels to distant, exotic locales, and even teaches his grandson, born with a club foot, a most effective way to deal with a bully. Fine reading for middle graders. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-24879-5
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2001


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