CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 12. . . . February 14, 2003
"I dreamed of Christmas up North last night," David said slowly, looking out the bus windows at the rain blurred streets.
The bus slowed and Annie stood up. "C'mon, David," she said. "Pull up your hood. Stay dry."
The bus driver looked at the kids, wondering again where they had come from and why they lived in such an unfriendly part of Seattle. Hoods up, heads down, the twins stepped the best they could around the places where there was water instead of sidewalk. The morning hadn't been rainy, unusual for November, and they hadn't worn boots.
They stopped on the narrow porch of the run-down duplex, stamped the water off their sneakers, and opened the door.
The furniture was gone.
"Annie, look," David said, startled, "everything's gone!"
She stepped wordlessly inside, crossed the small living room, and looked into the bedrooms and tiny kitchen alcove. Except for two sleeping bags and several boxes of clothes, the house was empty. Without furniture, it seemed stark, dingy, and tired.
"Close the door," Annie said quietly. "You're letting the heat out."
Thirteen-year-old twins are stranded in November when their mother desserts them and they realize that the landlord is going to call the police or social workers who will put them in foster homes. Quickly Annie decides that they should seek out a friend of their father whom they haven't seen for years. Lars, while in poor health, welcomes the twins onto his fishing boat and agrees to take them up to Alaska, the last place their father was spotted. Together, with the expertise of the elderly fisherman and the energy of the twins, they sail the 40 foot fishing boat up the inside passage from Seattle to Hidden Cove, Alaska. Adventures, such as storms, faulty engines, police boats and illness, arrive in every chapter. As their captain's health fails, the twins find that they are in charge. By the end of the journey, they are happily reunited with their father, and Lars is receiving needed medical attention.
The author, Joe Upton, is very knowledgeable about boating as is apparent from the situations described in the voyage. Each chapter includes a map of the section traveled. While the vocabulary and sentence structure are straightforward and uncomplicated, the print font size is small and the book totals 302 pages. The plot is full of adventures, but the character development is limited. As a result, I had difficulty finding the right audience for this book and suspect that it would appeal most to readers who had a knowledge of the west coast and long distance boating. The premise of the adventure is that the twins link up with a friend of their father whom they haven't heard from for years and that he is willing to go on a long and perilous journey in November in poor health and with only two inexperienced 13-year-olds as crew. Students in grades 5 and 6 who are looking for sea adventures will broaden the knowledge of conditions on the water and be satisfied that the twins reach their destination. Though a somewhat long read, Runaways on the Inside Passage proves a satisfying ending.
Meredith MacKeen is the teacher-librarian at Glen Stewart School in Stratford, P.E.I.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.