Ghost Canoe

Ghost Canoe

3.9 17
by Will Hobbs

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After a sailing ship breaks up on the rocks off Washington's storm-tossed Cape Flattery, Nathan McAllister, the fourteen-year-old son of the lighthouse keeper, refuses to believe the authorities, who say there were no survivors. Unexplained footprints on a desolate beach, a theft at the trading post, and glimpses of a wild "hairy man" convince Nathan that someone


After a sailing ship breaks up on the rocks off Washington's storm-tossed Cape Flattery, Nathan McAllister, the fourteen-year-old son of the lighthouse keeper, refuses to believe the authorities, who say there were no survivors. Unexplained footprints on a desolate beach, a theft at the trading post, and glimpses of a wild "hairy man" convince Nathan that someone is hiding in the remote sea caves along the coast. With his new friend, Lighthouse George, a fisherman from the famed Makah whaling tribe, Nathan paddles the fierce waters of the Pacific—fishing, hunting seals, searching for clues. Alone in the forest, Nathan discovers a ghostly canoe and a skeleton that may unlock the mystery of ancient treasure, betrayal . . .and murder.

2000-2001 Georgia's Picture Storybook Award & Georgia's Children's Book Award Masterlist

01-02 Land of Enchantment Book Award Masterlist (Gr. 6-9)

Editorial Reviews

American Bookseller
A riveting adventure ...
Exciting mystery/adventure, deeply rooted in respect for Native American heritage.
Exciting mystery/adventure, deeply rooted in respect for Native American heritage.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this intense adaptation of Hobbs's suspenseful novel set in 1874 Washington state, 14-year-old Nathan MacAllister uncovers a chilling murder-mystery involving a greedy sailor and members of a local Native American tribe. As the son of a lighthouse keeper, Nathan is accustomed to the storm-ravaged desolate life on Cape Flattery. He has adopted the ways of the Makah Indians as well, learning to fish and hunt under the tutelage of a family friend (and Makah) Lighthouse George. But when a clipper ship sinks just off the cape, Nathan wonders if it's true that there were no survivors. After all, who could be spying on the Makah tribe and making strange footprints on the beach? The answers to these and other questions become all too clear when the mysterious "hairy man" John Kane arrives in the village, eager to find and peddle Makah artifacts--the same artifacts Nathan has already discovered in a "ghost canoe," a sacred form of Makah burial. Gaines proves a versatile performer, gamely taking on roles of all ages, backgrounds and genders. Ages 8-up. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Nathan MacAllister, son of a lighthouse keeper on the wild, storm-pounded northwest coast of the 1870s, finds himself caught up in a world in turmoil. Worry for his sick mother; concern for the tides of change sweeping the lifestyle of the seafaring Makah people, their neighbors; and the immediacy of a murderer in their midst, form the layers of plot in this adventure story. Hobbs is a hit with boys, fifth grade and up, who read him for his twists and turns of story, unconsciously absorbing, in the process, the book's minute details of setting and background. Reading it brings close to hand the moist coastal air, the moss on the forest floor, the slap of whale flukes on water.
VOYA - Libby Bergstrom
In Hobbs's first mystery, fourteen-year-old Nathan MacAllister is convinced that someone survived the crash of the ship The Burnaby. A set of footprints led away from the site of the wreck. Could they belong to the person responsible for the death of the ship's captain, who didn't drown in the crash but instead was stabbed? Nathan suspects that the harsh new trading post owner, Kane, is tied to the mystery, and he sets out to solve it. But too much is revealed to Nathan without any effort on his part. He does little actual sleuthing. For example, his father gives him a letter from the ship captain, which incriminates Kane. Nathan does discover a burial canoe, which is the ghost canoe of the title, when he is out exploring the area around the Makah village where he lives. The hidden treasure map, for which the captain was killed, is in the canoe, but readers figure this out long before Nathan does. When he does find the map and is confronted by Kane, Nathan does not escape on his own. An outcast from the Makah people rescues him. Nathan simply is an observer in a dramatic final escape scene in which poetic justice is served. Kane topples into the ocean from the side of a cliff, pushed off balance by the treasure he tries to steal. While his unfolding of the mystery is less than successful, Hobbs's strength is in his portrayal of setting, in this case a Makah village on the northwest coast of Washington in 1874. Details of Makah life blend with lush descriptions of the natural setting. Introduce this book to those interested in Native American life, not your mystery fans. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M (Readable without serious defects, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8).
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9With characteristic skill, Hobbs blends together a number of elements to create an exciting adventure set in 1874 on Washington's rugged Olympic peninsula. Nathan, 14, tries to unravel the mystery of a shipwreck and the captain's murder. With Lighthouse George, a Makah fisherman, the boy paddles canoes on delivery runs to the damp, inhospitable island of Tatoosh, where his father is the lighthouse keeper, and on hunting expeditions for whales and seals. Curious about footprints found on a desolate beach near the shipwreck where all were supposedly lost, the boy explores the peninsula and encounters a shadowy figure brandishing a knife in a dark cave, a nervous local trader burying a small metal box, and a burial "ghost" canoe mounted high among tree branches facing the sea. When the boy's father receives a letter referring to a lost treasure map and the likelihood of foul play in the shipwreck, Nathan begins to piece together the truth. In a climactic scene, he is threatened by the murderer, and Lighthouse George and an eccentric village outcast come to Nathan's rescue. A gallery of good, evil, eccentric, and misunderstood characters teaches him the meaning of friendship and enriches his appreciation of another culture. Dramatic, vivid descriptions of the Pacific landscape and Makah lifestyle and customs create a rich backdrop for Nathan's adventures and discoveries. A winning tale that artfully combines history, nature, and suspense.Gerry Larson, Durham Magnet Center, Durham, NC
Kirkus Reviews
Hobbs (Beardream, p. 462, etc.), setting his novel on Washington's Cape Flattery in 1874, presents a hero who not only has the intelligence to solve a murder, but the resources to help bring a killer to justice.

Nathan MacAllister, 14, has a fairly exciting life as a de facto assistant lighthouse keeper to his father, retired Captain Zachary MacAllister. When not tending the lighthouse, Nathan looks after his sick mother and fishes with a friend, Lighthouse George, a Makah fisherman. When a sailing ship, the L.S. Burnaby, crashes on the rocks near the lighthouse, and the captain's murdered body washes ashore, Nathan becomes an amateur sleuth. At first, he believes (as the Makah do) that an evil spirit is at work, but certain events—his neighbor, Captain Bim, burying a treasure box at night, the discovery of a skeleton in a Makah canoe hanging in the treetops, the appearance of a charismatic yet strange new shopkeeper, Mr. Kane—lead Nathan to sensibly conclude that the mystery has more to do with real people than ghosts. While the mystery is compelling, it is Hobbs's deft weaving of Makah culture into the story that resonates, from their harvesting of wood without cutting any trees to their generosity to friends. A robust adventure in an intriguing setting.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Avon Camelot Bks.
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Fog enclosed the island until it was hidden from view. Nathan and his father spent most of the day cleaning the lens, and they kept the foghorn going. Midafternoon, Nathan's mother called them in for an early supper.

Every so often there was a slight break in the fog and the misty shape of Cape Flattery appeared through the south-facing window. Every twenty Seven seconds came the three-second resounding blast of the foghorn. Nathan had never felt so weary in his life.

As his mother was gazing toward the mainland through one of the brief openings in the fog, her face suddenly registered the utmost astonishment. She pointed toward Cape Flattery- Nathan and his father were shocked by the sight of a three-masted square rigger under full sail emerging from the mist where a ship never, ever should have been- Like an apparition, the lumber schooner was sailing through the narrow gap between Tatoosh and the mainland.

"They've missed the Strait!" Nathan's mother cried. Nathan and his father went running outside, as fast as they could, toward the edge of the cliff.

They could see the men on the ship, even read the name, the L. S. Burnaby, on the side. The sailors were so close Nathan could make out the men's faces, shocked beyond amazement to discover their situation. Paralyzed by the sight of Tatoosh's looming cliffs, the crew stood unmoving on the deck like actors in a tragic drama, staring up at Nathan and his father. A dense bank of fog was engulfing the ship from behind. Only the helmsman was in motion as, realizing their situation, he spun the ship's wheel away from Tatoosh.

Nathan knew instantly what the result of the correction would be. The helmsman was now steering the Burnabydirectly toward the barely submerged reef known as Jones Rock, invisible in the fog ahead

"Jones Rock!" Nathan exclaimed under his breath His father had realized the same thing and already was waving the helmsman to steer close under Tatoosh's cliffs, where the schooner would find deep water.

The helmsman saw and understood the waving of the lighthouse keeper's arms. He responded with a frantic reversal of the ship's wheel. Like a scattered flock of sheep, the crewmen were now scrambling this way and that. Moments later, the square-rigger disappeared in the fog, engulfed like a ghost ship.

"What will happen to it?" Nathan asked anxiously, his eyes fixed on the spot where the ship had disappeared.

His father's ruddy features, carved by the sea over decades as he'd stood at the helm of sailing ships, were so grave they reminded Nathan of a minister he'd once seen presiding at a funeral. "God help them," Zachary MacAllister whispered.

Nathan and his parents prayed that night for those sailors, not knowing what had become of them, fearing the worst.

During the night, Nathan and his father again took turns at the watch in the lighthouse. The fog dissolved during Nathan's watch, and the stars came out.

With daylight came no hint that a ship had passed between Tatoosh and the mainland. Filled with relief, Nathan hurried to tell his parents. "They cleared Jones Rock," he said, bursting into the kitchen. "They must have passed safely into the Strait. They're probably in Port Townsend by now."

"It's a miracle," Nathan's mother declared.

His father nodded, then added, The captain shouldn't have needed a miracle. He should have heard the foghorn."

The next afternoon Nathan and his parents finally learned the sailors' fate from Lighthouse George, the Makah fisherman who delivered their mail once a week in his dugout canoe. The men hadn't been lucky, after all. Lighthouse George said that the ship had foundered in the fog, breaking up on the Chibahdehl Rocks, to the east of Tatoosh, just a few miles past Jones Rock.

The Makahs had found the bodies of fourteen drowned men. And one set of footprints on the shore. Ghost Canoe. Copyright © by Will Hobbs. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Will Hobbs is the award-winning author of nineteen novels, including Far North, Crossing the Wire, and Take Me to the River.

Never Say Die began with the author's eleven-day raft trip in 2003 down the Firth River on the north slope of Canada's Yukon Territory. Ever since, Will has been closely following what scientists and Native hunters are reporting about climate change in the Arctic. When the first grolar bear turned up in the Canadian Arctic, he began to imagine one in a story set on the Firth River.

A graduate of Stanford University, Will lives with his wife, Jean, in Durango, Colorado.

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Ghost Canoe 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lighthouse George and a few others were going to an island so they took a canoe down the river. They got to the island finally after hitting all those rocks with the canoe. It took them two days to get there. When they got to the island they tied the rope to the tree so the canoe wouldn't get away. They got out and started to walk up the hill. They were looking for this guy named Kane that has lived on this island for years. Then they realized that they had forgotten the map in the canoe. So when they went back to get the map it was gone. They didn't know what happened to it. They thought one of them picked it up and put it in their pocket but none of them did. They figured out that Kane had taken it. After they figured out Kane took it they just picked directions to take it became night they built a fire and sat around the fire. They had one person stay up each night to make sure Kane or anybody came around while they were sleeping. Then after three nights of being out on the island they found Kane and captured him, and they took the map back for they could find their way back to the canoe. They finally got back to the canoe and untied it and went back down the river to where they came from finally they made it back and they was happy to get back to where they came from. When they got back they took Kane somewhere. I liked this story. It was a good story. I liked it because it made me interested to it that's the best story I've ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That most of the books the will hobbs wrote have water on the front? He must like things that have to do with water. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved ghost canoe
jeremiah_B More than 1 year ago
The Ghost Canoe is a very good book if you like the outdoor sand a mystery. Nathan Mac Allister lived at Neah Bay. An outcast named Dolla Bill comes to town. Dolla Bill was a great juggler and good at sla hal an Native American game. A man named Kane comes and buys the general store. Kane finds a Spanish ter and starts to run away, when he’s about to get captured he throws 15 bars of gold in to the sea and grabs 4 bars and tried to climb 200 feet up a cliff. If you want to know what happens next you’ll have to read the book. I think that the Ghost Canoe is a very good book because I like the outdoors and mysteries. Also, I can relate with him because I moved.
Danielle Phillips More than 1 year ago
I liked thedescriptions
William Tipton More than 1 year ago
its really good i liked it
Team_C More than 1 year ago
I am reading this book for my english class and i think its so boring that y class is on the 10th chapter but i have not even read the 2nd chapter. To me, its just not that interesting. It's a bore. I have been looking for chapter reviews but i cannot find any cause im hoping that my teacher does not give us a quiz or a test. <3 mee (I HATE THIS BOOK)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book very much. At first it did not look interesting but after reading the first couple chapters it kept my attention. I would reccomend this book to anyone interested about the Makah Tribes and anyone who likes suspense and mystery. Nathan McAllister(Main Character) is very suspicious about the ship that wrecked and when he goes on his adventures is where the most suspense is. I think this is one of the best mystery books that I ever read. This was a good book and I look forward to reading another book by Will Hobbs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a really good book i really enjoyed it
Guest More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed it very much,it was suspenseful and kept my attention. Will Hobbs is an excellent writer and i enjoy his books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm reading Ghost Canoe for a school project. No offense, but I think it's one of the most overrated books ever. The book uses far more words than necessary and there is very little tension in the plot. Bottom line: there is no real suspense. The plot was rather overwrought, really. I can't believe they gave this book an award for Best Mystery. Well, it was a good idea, but the story itself could have been much better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nathen McAllister the son of the Tatoosh light keeper. All the problems start when a ship crashes. Bodys start to wash up on shore, and there are footprints indicating a survivor of some kind. After words the trading post. Nathen finds many things when he fishes with a native. I would not be able to say anything bad about this book because I liked it so much. This book had lots of suspense.I would recommend to people who like mystery and suspense.
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