Jane Leslie Conly Murder Afloat

ISBN 13: 9781423104162

Murder Afloat

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Benjamin Franklin Orville is a boy who wants for nothing. He has his own pony, and he's caught the eye of the charming girl next door. He doesn't have a care in the world--until the day his mother sends him to market to get a chicken for dinner. Suddenly Benjy is caught up in a scuffle, kidnapped with a group of immigrants, and forced to work aboard the Ella Dawn--one of the most ill-reputed oystering vessels in Baltimore. He tries to plead his case, but his captors are unimpressed by Benjamin's way with language. Soon the boy knows only hard work and hunger, a little bit of German, and a whole lot about injustice. It's more of an education than he ever got at home. And along with a growling stomach and aching muscles, he also experiences the joys of the sea--a  gentle rhythm that rocks him to sleep at night and freedom he never felt between the fancy walls of his home. Will Benjamin ever see home again? And if he does, will he know what to do there?

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About the Author:


Jane Leslie Conly is the author of several books, including Rasco and the Rats of NIMH, an ALA Booklist Children's Editors Choice, the critically acclaimed Trout Summer (an ALA Notable Children's Book and Best Book for Young Adults), and the Newbery Honor Book Crazy Lady! She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

From Booklist:

“My world, like a china plate carelessly handled, was smashed in a thousand pieces.” In 1880s Baltimore, 14-year-old Benjamin Orville is finishing a routine errand for his mother when he is shanghaied onto an oyster schooner going out to sea and forced to become a crew member. As the months go by on the Ella Dawn, Ben adapts to the rough conditions even as he yearns for his family, and he also discovers a love for the water and life at sea. Unfortunately, he makes an enemy of the rickety fishing ship’s murderous captain, who has no regard for the life of his crew, leading to a bloody finale with few survivors. With compelling characters and details of the little-known process of oystering woven throughout, Conly’s tale touches on the hardships of many German immigrants to the U.S., whose desperate plights offer parallels to contemporary immigration issues. Short chapters and suspenseful plot twists will keep readers turning the pages in this engaging historical adventure. Grades 5-8. --Ryan Donovan

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