Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on the Titanic

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A stowaway, a stolen book, a murderous villain: an adventure on the most famous shipwreck in history.


The great ocean liner Titanic is preparing to cross the Atlantic. On board is a sinister thief bent on stealing a rare book that may be the key to unlocking infinite treasure, a wealthy academic traveling home to America with his rare book collection, and Patrick Waters, a twelve-year-old Irish boy who is certain that his job as a steward on the unsinkable ship will be ...

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Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on the Titanic

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A stowaway, a stolen book, a murderous villain: an adventure on the most famous shipwreck in history.


The great ocean liner Titanic is preparing to cross the Atlantic. On board is a sinister thief bent on stealing a rare book that may be the key to unlocking infinite treasure, a wealthy academic traveling home to America with his rare book collection, and Patrick Waters, a twelve-year-old Irish boy who is certain that his job as a steward on the unsinkable ship will be the adventure of a lifetime. In Dangerous Waters, disguises, capers, and danger abound as the ship makes its way toward that fateful iceberg where Patrick will have to summon all his wits in order to survive.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This caper initially seems at odds with its doomed setting, yet Mone quickly entices readers with criminal intrigue, characters who range from eccentric to entirely ordinary, and, of course, the singular setting that is the Titanic. Among the more ordinary characters are Patrick and James Waters, Belfast brothers who work on board, burly James as a boiler room trimmer and bookish Patrick as a steward. Patrick, 12, becomes embroiled in a tug-of-war between Harry Widener (of Harvard library fame), a collector of rare books, and Rockwell and Berryman, two rogues determined to nab Widener’s prized copy of Sir Francis Bacon’s Essaies. While Rockwell and Berryman’s attempts at thievery lend a comedic note (Berryman dons ridiculous disguises, while pretentious Rockwell eats incessantly and praises his accomplice’s “delightfully malleable” morals), the bond between Patrick and Widener gives the story heart. Mone displays solid knowledge of the facts: there are numerous real-life cameos on the ship, and his descriptions of shipboard life, the Titanic’s sinking, and the survivors’ rescue are impressively vivid. Ages 9–12. Agent: Ken Wright, Writers House. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“Mone seamlessly integrates details of the Titanic and its fate into Patrick’s story, and his passages about the ocean voyage are vivid, even lyrical.”—School Library Journal


“Mone spins a capable caper, complete with villains so nasty you can picture them twiddling their mustaches.”—Booklist


"...the descriptions are magnificent..." -Kirkus


“Mr. Mone has created an enjoyable and at times poignant literary drama. With an echo of survivor Helen Candee, he writes of the sinking's ghastly cacophony: ‘This was the music of hell.’”—Wall Street Journal


"Mone quickly entices readers with criminal intrigue, characters who range from eccentric to entirely ordinary, and, of course, the singular setting that is the Titanic."—Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
A fictional tale of mystery and suspense is woven into factual details about the Titanic. Harry Elkins Widener is carrying a second edition copy of the Essaies by Sir Francis Bacon aboard the ship (factual). Two unscrupulous fellows, also aboard the ship, are determined to steal the book believing that it contains a code revealing the secret of alchemy. Patrick Waters, a young steward, becomes involved through Widener's tutelage, and although Widener perishes when the ship goes down, Waters survives along with the book. Through the use of this fictional plot, Mone provides a look at the inner workings of the Titanic. Waters' brother is a trimmer, shoveling coal constantly into large furnaces to keep the motors running and Waters' job as a steward reveals background information about the services afforded the first class passengers. A compelling mystery with enough factual information to provoke curiosity about what really happened. An author's note reveals that a second edition of the Essaies did appear at the Harry Elkins Widener Library on the Harvard campus (donated by Widener's mother) soon after its dedication. Recommended reading for anyone with interest in the Titanic. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
VOYA - Kate Neff
The 100-year anniversary of the Titanic disaster is approaching, which means a wave of books on the subject is upon us. Although Gregory Mone has done his research, which he notes in the author's note, the book is lacking a great deal of energy and adventure. The story follows Patrick Waters, a twelve-year-old Irish boy who is quite bright but who would rather use his muscles like his older brother, who is working on the ill-fated ship. Patrick becomes entangled in intrigue involving scholar Harry Widener and an original copy of Sir Francis Bacon's Essaies. While Widener was a real person on the ship, the rest of the story has been created by Mone. The book is written in earnest, but it has the feel of the Great Illustrated Classics series—it is blocky and over-simplified. It is age-appropriate for middle school readers, but the tone gets bleaker toward the end, which is only natural given the inevitable. It might be a little heavy for younger readers. The book is too light for mature readers and too slowly paced for reluctant readers, which leaves it as an average read overall. Reviewer: Kate Neff
Kirkus Reviews
Patrick, an Irish lad, finagles his way on board the Titanic where he becomes a steward to book-collector Harry Widener and becomes embroiled in an intrigue revolving around Widener's copy of Sir Francis Bacon's Essaies. The rare edition is said to contain, in code, a formula for great wealth. A pair of villains, as theatrically eccentric as any created by Willkie Collins, want the book. After failing to steal it, the thieves ask Patrick to procure the Essaies for them in return for a fee. In a sensible response that will echo readers' reactions, Patrick replies, "Why not ask him [Widener] to borrow it?" For although the inequalities of class, wealth and education are running themes in the story, they do not provide adequate motive for theft. Nor is Patrick's ensuing moral dilemma--should he steal the book to help his heroic brother, who has fallen ill while laboring on the ship?--entirely convincing. The pacing falters, and, although the descriptions are magnificent, that the action takes place on the Titanic is almost inconsequential except for the threat that the formula may be lost forever. Throughout, Patrick learns much about himself, his family and Bacon's great secret. The author's note describing the real Harry Widener and his copy of Essaies may be one of the more gripping aspects of the book. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Patrick Waters, a 12-year-old from Ireland, blesses his luck when he has a chance to work aboard the Titanic, even if his stamina makes him better suited to be a steward than an engine-room trimmer like his older brother James. He develops a friendship with Harry Widener (a real passenger), who encourages him to read and discuss the works of Francis Bacon. They soon realize that Harry's rare copy of Bacon's Essaies has lured two thieves to the ship. Archibald Rockwell yearns to possess the alchemical secrets he believes Bacon encoded within its pages, so he hired John Berryman, an unscrupulous thief and disguise artist, to steal the book. When the vessel hits the iceberg, the struggles for the treasure and for survival merge into a dramatic ending. Patrick and Harry's discussions about Francis Bacon strengthen this lively adventure into a rich novel. Harry's influence helps the boy understand how knowledge can shape a person's life. Mone seamlessly integrates details of the Titanic and its fate into Patrick's story, and his passages about the ocean voyage are vivid, even lyrical. He describes the ocean as "an aquatic desert without a single dune." Secondary characters, including James, Patrick's friend Emily, and the two villains receive thorough treatment and avoid being stock characters. While many children are rapt readers of any Titanic material, Mone's story rises above the standard.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596436732
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 3/13/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Mone is the author of the novel Fish. He is a graduate of Harvard and lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

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Read an Excerpt

Dangerous Waters

An Adventure on the Titanic
By Gregory Mone

Roaring Brook Press

Copyright © 2012 Gregory Mone
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781596436732



Long after midnight, a short-haired man of average height crossed from London’s Kensington Gardens to Mount Street, headed east. Mr. John Francis Berryman had walked silently through the damp, thick grass of the park, but now his oversized heels clacked loudly as he stepped onto the cobblestone street. The noise was unacceptable, even if no other souls were out at that hour. He would have to be more careful. Silent. Ideally he would proceed unnoticed, steal the book, and return to his small flat within the hour.
Steal: such a harsh, stubborn word. Was this truly stealing? He planned to return the book once he and Mr. Rockwell found what they needed. And besides, the book’s owner, Harry Elkins Widener, was so wealthy that he could hardly be stolen from. They had been in school together, at Harvard College, and Harry never once had to worry about money. His family owned streetcar lines, railroads, and office buildings. He lived in a one-hundred-five-room mansion and had begun amassing his noted collection of rare—and, in Berryman’s estimation, largely superficial—books at a mere twenty-one years of age.
Berryman, on the other hand, dragged behind him a heavy chain of debts. He owed money to his grocer, his tailor, numerous professors and colleagues, even one of his students. His shoemaker was holding no less than three pairs of his boots, vowing not to restore them until he was paid in full, and the local baker refused to loan him so much as a roll.
None of this was Mr. Berryman’s fault. The cruel, unbalanced world had thrust him into his present predicament. And this, he believed, granted him the right to borrow from those more fortunate. He walked carefully ahead.
South Audley Street was all shadows. No lights shone through the windows looking over the narrow street. No candles burned, no streetlamps glowed, and Quaritch Booksellers, he noted with pleasure, was particularly lifeless.
A low scuffling sound startled him. He turned, grabbed his knife, saw nothing; a rat, presumably.
At the door to the shop he glanced once more along the length of the dark, wet street, inserted the key he’d lifted off that foolish clerk earlier in the day, and entered. He took a moment to bask: He might not have been the best of thieves, but he doubted that any other scholars possessed such skill.
Inside, he breathed in the musty, aged smell of thousands of books. That book dust was fresh sea air to him. So much weathered leather, so many brittle yellowing pages. All that hardened cloth and browned book-binding glue. He found it completely invigorating.
Yet he had no time to browse the shelves. He had an assignment. He was to procure the rare second edition of Sir Francis Bacon’s Essaies before Quaritch shipped it off to Widener’s Philadelphia mansion.
The door to the old book dealer’s second floor office was open. The electric lights would be too bright, too conspicuous, so he lit a small candle with the deft flick of a match and examined several boxes of books stacked about the room. Widener’s supply was sitting near the door, packaged and ready to sail for America.
The anticipation forced his hands to quiver, but the value of the books demanded that he work with the utmost care. He delicately cut open the box and removed each precious volume. The books were either preserved in hard clothbound cases or wrapped in several layers of soft felt.
The size and thickness of each item varied, but the book he sought would be thin. The Essaies were really little more than an extended pamphlet, so there was no need to inspect the larger volumes. This realization allowed him to arrive sooner at a terribly unfortunate conclusion.
The Essaies were gone.
But how? Berryman knew that Widener had instructed Quaritch to buy the book for him. Quaritch had completed the sale a few days before. All of Widener’s other purchases were there. The old bookseller had to have the Essaies.
He rushed to Quaritch’s desk, sat in the old man’s place, laid his hands on the leather-topped surface. Applying more care than the dealer deserved, Berryman opened Quaritch’s ledger and flipped through the thin, dry pages. His hands and fingers were shaking. His jaw locked shut. On the last page he found it: A note from that very day recording a visit from Harry Elkins Widener. Mr. Berryman held his candle close and read:
Visit from HEW. Nice young man. Paid in full and looked upon the books with angelic devotion. Should be a lucrative customer. Interested in Cruikshank and RLS in particular. Very, very happy to see that the Bacon was his. Ordered the lot to be sent to Philadelphia, except for the Essaies, which he’s taking aboard the new ocean liner, Titanic. If I’m shipwrecked, he said, the Bacon will go with me.
The spoiled, rich fool! Berryman slapped his hand down hard on the desk.
A moment later he heard footsteps. Someone was ascending the stairs: The glow of a candle on the wall outside the door brightened with each step.
Berryman moistened the pads of his forefinger and thumb with his tongue, prepared to extinguish his own candle, then stopped himself. The person would have seen the glow. If he were to extinguish the flame now, they’d know for sure that there was an intruder and call for help. Instead Berryman rushed to the door and waited, standing aside.
The careful footsteps stopped outside the office, and then an old, hunched-over figure walked through. Berryman could assume no risk: He leaped forward and pushed the man to the floor, but the man grasped Berryman’s ankle as he fell. Berryman tumbled as he tried to flee.
The candle still glowed; in the dim light he could see that it was old Quaritch himself.
Berryman tried to shake and kick his way free, but the old bookseller would not let go.
“Thief!” Quaritch yelled. “Help, thief!”
Berryman promptly struck the old man on the head with the heel of his boot. Quaritch released him, whimpering like a pitiful, injured dog. There was little choice now, as the bookseller had surely seen him. Berryman reached inside his coat and removed the knife.
The shouts for help ceased. Quaritch stared at the blade, confused and frightened at once. Berryman always thought that his preferred weapon, a knife typically used to slice free the uncut pages of newly printed books, was uniquely clever, and he was happy to see that the irony was not lost on Quaritch.
The old man crawled away backwards, his knees upturned like a spider’s legs. A rivulet of blood ran down his forehead, spreading in the wrinkles of his brow.
Quaritch stopped at the base of one of the room’s many mountainous bookshelves and began pulling books down from the shelves, surrounding himself with the texts as if he were trying to form an impenetrable, book-built shield. He piled them on his lap, in front of his stomach, and clutched them to his chest.
In the dim candlelight Berryman saw clearly that they were rare, valuable classics. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, even a copy of one of Mr. Berryman’s favorites, Cervantes’ Don Quixote.
He had no choice but to lower the knife; he could not bear the thought of such precious books stained with that old man’s blood. Most of all, he could not hurt the Quijote. He pocketed his weapon and moved toward the door, deeper into the shadows. “You have not seen me,” he said. “I have stolen nothing.”
“Yes, yes,” Mr. Quaritch answered, “I have not seen you.”
Mr. Berryman hurried down the stairs, out to South Audley Street, and back toward the park.
“Thief! Thief!” he heard the old, frightened bookseller shouting weakly in the distance.
But he was not a thief. John Francis Berryman was a scholar. A man of the mind and a lover of books.

Text copyright © 2012 by Gregory Mone


Excerpted from Dangerous Waters by Gregory Mone Copyright © 2012 by Gregory Mone. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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  • Posted February 14, 2013

    It's hard to find an accurate and well-written fictional book ab

    It's hard to find an accurate and well-written fictional book about the Titanic. "Dangerous Waters", however, meets my expectations! It was engaging, satisfying, and even after I finished, still exhilarating. The thing that reeled me in was the main subject of the plot: books! My favorite pastime is reading, so if there is a Titanic story out there that really focuses on the wonder of books (and the terrible loss of books that went down with the Titanic), then it's probably an automatic favorite of mine.

    The story mostly centers around Patrick, a young Irish boy who is quite in awe of the Titanic. I felt, as the story began, an authentic sensation of anticipation of the Titanic. It is the way in which the local people speak about the big vessel that drills excitement in... the world's biggest ship ever is about to set sail this week. Other authors have tried to create this same feeling, but this is the first time I've fully appreciated the efforts made to show the sensation of what the people of Belfast were thinking.

    In the plot of "Dangerous Waters", the story sometimes switches from Patrick to one of the other characters, like Berryman, who is trying to steal and acquire a certain rare copy of Sir Francis Bacon's book that is supposed to carry a secret, hidden in code. I rather enjoyed getting the entire story by "watching" the different characters, instead of it always focusing on just one main character. Harry Widener is another of the characters in this book---he was a real passenger on the Titanic, and I think his presence in the book authenticated the entire story. What strikes me as odd, is the fact that usually I do not like famous people from the Titanic taking a key role in a fictional story---I don't generally approve of this because it never feels genuine---but it worked! I actually loved how Harry Widener fit right in.

    There are subjects like drinking included in the story---but this tends to go with the subject matter of Titanic and that time era. Patrick himself had a job in a pub. There is also much talk about spit, tobacco, spittoons, etc., which did get a bit graphic at times, but slightly hilarious.

    If there's one thing I don't understand about the entire book, it is this minor detail: Why did Emily, a girl from the story, get featured on the front cover? Perhaps it was a marketing idea from the publisher, to make the book appealing to both boys and girls, but the main character is Patrick, whereas Emily has a very minor part.

    I really applaud Gregory Mone's writing ability! Great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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