Part of the "Cascades" series offering hardback novels to be explored in the classroom, this is the gripping story of Charlotte Doyle, the 13-year ...Show synopsisPart of the "Cascades" series offering hardback novels to be explored in the classroom, this is the gripping story of Charlotte Doyle, the 13-year-old daughter of a respectable 19th-century family who starts her voyage across the Atlantic on a ship with a cruel captain and rebellious crew.Hide synopsis
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Avi provides us with a look into the era of the great sailing ships of the 1800's. Students love this book which is full of adventure and terrific writing. The end has a great unsuspected twist and getting there is very suspenseful.
Students enjoy getting into the flavor of the era and researching ships and sailing jargon and the art of tying knots.
The prologue, "An Important Warning" sets the stage and is vital to understanding the transformation Charlotte undergoes.
A great read at any age.
I'm truly sorry this book hadn't yet been written when I was young. Because together with "Pollyanna", "The Witch of Blackbird Pond", "The Secret Garden" and "A Wrinkle in Time" it would have been one of my favourites. I read it however at the tender age of 49 with one of my daughters and liked it immensely. Actually I probably now have the insight to understand the message of this delightful novel and the preparation and knowledge of maritime culture to appreciate the accurateness of the setting.
"The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" is a thriller/adventure/maritime novel for young adults written in 1990 that won the Newbery Honor in 1991.
It's 1832, Charlotte is a thirteen year old pre-puberal girl (and here it is evident that the Author is a male) reared as a young lady in England, just like Sara in Burnett's "The Little Princess" who had been sent from India to London to study. Charlotte is from Providence, Rhode Island (where I believe Avi lives) and she is recalled home by her parents. She boards one of her merchant fathers ships "The Seahawk" in what would seem the safest of circumstances. However, everything goes wrong and she finds herself alone with only the severe and cruel Captain Jaggery and the crew. The ship is a small society and the crew is already thinking of mutiny. Through misunderstandings, new friendships (Zachariah the black cook recalls a similar character in "Captains Courageous"), the meditated discussion of class preconceptions and acts of true courage Charlotte finds the guts to stand on the crew's side until the most tragic consequences and to choose where she wants to stand in life.
Reading through the book, my mind evoked Kipling's "Captains Courageous" with the ship as a school of life, Dana's "Two Years Before the Mast" and Melville's "Moby Dick" because of the figure of the severe/mad captain, not to mention all the marvellous maritime literature we have all grown up on.
The one distinctive theme of the novel however is the challenge to the gender role that Avi proposes. A girl lives what is traditionally a boy's adventure and life. I found this intuition very challenging and helpful in today's conflictive society where gender still conditions more than half the worlds female population. What is it that women really can't do? Even if simplified this is the book's nucleus.
These messages are important to get through to our children of both sexes and even if this young adult novel does have some limits (I actually liked it more than my thirteen year old daughter, that bless her! Found it a little unrealistic...) I am grateful to the Author for having written it.
"The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" falls in the category of those books that seem written just for you!
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