On Rough Seas
By Nancy L. Hull
(Clarion Books, Hardcover, 9780618897438, 261pp.)
Publication Date: March 2008
List Price: $16.00*
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At 14, Alec knows what he wants to be: a seaman. Instead of working at his family’s inn, he prefers roaming through the busy streets and docks of Dover. When the captain of the Britannia, one of the fishing vessels in the Channel, asks him to be a galley boy, he seizes the opportunity in spite of his father’s objections. On his first day at sea, he weathers a severe storm similar to the one that took the life of his cousin and best friend, Georgie, months earlier. Alec still feels guilty for having not been able to save Georgie. England is at war with Germany, and soon Alec is doing more than swabbing the deck and handling the ropes of the fishing vessel. He wonders why shadowy figures are disappearing into the tunnels under the old stone castle and who the special soldiers being billeted at the inn are. Then comes terrible news: hundreds of thousands of British forces are trapped on the beach at Dunkirk. All ships in the Channel, large and small, are ordered to undertake a massive evacuation. Alec’s transformation from galley boy to courageous seaman is a riveting journey in this dramatic debut novel.
"The core story of Alec's ill-fated fishing trip and its life-altering repercussions is convincing and well told." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Hull offers a sensitive portrayal of Alec's seesawing emotions and gradual recognition of what matters to him. A well-researched historical novel." Booklist, ALA
"A wealth of historical detail neatly woven into the text make this a must for the many young readers interested in World War II." Kirkus Reviews