Will be published in Sept 2011.
Lucky Valera is a young boy about to set sail on the whaling ship The Nightbird. Before he can board he is snatched away by his brother Fortuna who is determined to make money off him by having him work at the local mill. With the help of Daniel, a fugitive slave working at the mill, and Emmeline, a local girl who strongly believes in helping others, Lucky tries to escape his new life.
Reading this spirited story, I formed the opinion it would be a great read of middle school boys. There is adventure and excitement, and even a bit of history hidden inside. When I reviewed the book info after finishing, I was delighted to see it will be marketed to just this audience.
My favourite character was Emmeline. She is so set in her beliefs that people need to be helped, and she will stop at nothing to be of assistance. She doesn’t have the easiest life with her father off captaining a ship, her mother dead, and her stepmother a dreadful witch. But she still puts all her heart and soul into helping the abolitionists. This kind of attitude is a great example for young people to see and read about. Especially when it comes from someone their own age.
My least favourite character was Fortuna, and not just because he was the bad guy. I didn’t like how one sided he was. Near the end there were hints that he wasn’t evil just for the sake of being evil, but by then it was too late. I prefer my bad guys to have a bit more depth and some greyness to their character.
Overall, this was a good read for the intended audience. It would make a great addition to a history class teaching about slavery. Stories like this are a way to get students interested, and make history come alive.