Lost at Sea

Lost at Sea

5.0 1
by Jonathan Neale

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Orrie and Jack don’t know much about sailing. One day they are basking on a beach in the Canary Islands where their mum has taken them on holiday. Two days later they board a small yacht, along with their little brother, their mother, and her new boyfriend, Skip, to sail across the Atlantic on a lark. Then Skip, the owner of Good Company, falls overboard.


Orrie and Jack don’t know much about sailing. One day they are basking on a beach in the Canary Islands where their mum has taken them on holiday. Two days later they board a small yacht, along with their little brother, their mother, and her new boyfriend, Skip, to sail across the Atlantic on a lark. Then Skip, the owner of Good Company, falls overboard. Something is wrong with their mother. She won’t leave her cabin. Orrie and Jack are used to taking care of her, but now it is up to them to navigate the thirty-six-foot boat to Antigua safely.
Lost at Sea, written in the alternating voices of two very smart, funny, and real kids, tells the story of a family working through their problems. It is also an intense and gripping adventure at sea that will have readers on the edge of their seats to the very last page.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
PW called this novel about two siblings who sail with their mentally unstable mother and her boyfriend from the Canary Islands to Antigua in a small craft during a fierce storm "a white-knuckle read." Ages 10-14. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
It is an improbable tale; two children under the age of eleven skipper a sail boat to safety with their ailing mother below deck, their six year old brother cooking, and a violent storm raging above deck that has already sent the one other adult on board to his death. These are not seasoned young sailors, just bright and courageous young people who have to read the instruction manual to know what to do with the various sails during a storm. It is also improbable that the children's father, who moved out and left them with their seriously mentally ill mother, appears as promised when the boat finally docks in Antigua. But all the improbabilities aside, the story is exciting and the children have very honest feelings about each other, their parents and their situation. The story is told as a journal, alternating between the voices of the girl, Orrie and the boy, Jack. Without being didactic, the book offers lessons in coping with crisis, creative problem solving, and appreciating people—especially family members—warts and all. 2002, Houghton Mifflin,
— Karen Leggett
Eleven-year-old Orrie and her twelve- and seven-year-old brothers, Jack and Andy, are vacationing with their mentally unstable Mum. When Mum's seaman boyfriend, Skip, announces his plans to sail the Atlantic, only Orrie is displeased. In a combined act of foreshadowing, hubris, and stupidity, Skip pours Spaghetti-Os into the engine's fuel tanks, thus assuring his preference for sails. Predictably, the sea becomes treacherous, Skip is washed overboard, and Mum collapses, leaving the children in charge of the yacht. Incredibly, the story dulls here, with more action Hazlett
When Jack and Orrie board the sailboat owned by their mother's boyfriend, life looks quite promising. Skip seems to be a great guy, and their mentally ill mother has not had any breakdowns lately. This all changes when Skip (who proves not quite stable when he pours a can of Spaghetti-Os into the boat's engine) falls overboard. Their mother descends into a nearly catatonic state, and the children must assume responsibility for sailing the boat and keeping their mother, their little brother, and themselves alive. They are afraid that if they ask anyone for help, their mother's illness will be discovered, and she will be sent to a mental institution. Jack and Orrie are successful in controlling the boat until a storm arises, and then they must sail their way through it without an engine. This is a great book to recommend to those readers who have enjoyed the survival stories of Will Hobbs and Gary Paulsen and are looking for more stories of young people who triumph against the odds. The children are resourceful and brave, and the description of the peril that they face will draw in reluctant readers. The way that the mother just snaps out of her depressive state in order to save her children is a trifle convenient after the detailed descriptions of the nature of her illness. However, this is an entertaining and quick read, and it is recommended. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2002, Houghton Mifflin, 101p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Heather Lisowski
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Twelve-year-old Jack is thrilled when he learns that his mother and her new boyfriend are planning to take him, his younger brother, and his 11-year-old sister, Orrie, across the Atlantic on Skip's boat. Orrie is horrified. Skip is old-fashioned, and so determined not to let anyone rush the voyage that he pours Spaghetti-Os into the boat's engine so they'll have to rely on the sails. Then one night, during a ferocious storm, he is washed overboard. When the children's mother learns what has happened, she falls into one of her frequent deep depressions, becoming helpless and unresponsive. Orrie and Jack continue on toward Antigua. Alternating between the older siblings' point-of-view, Neale has written a tense, exciting adventure story with likable, believable main characters. Readers will learn a little about sailing from Jack's diagrams of the boat and his descriptions of how he learns to navigate and steer. The setup is a bit far-fetched and hard to swallow, and the book ends a little abruptly with a safe arrival in Antigua, where the children's father is waiting. Still, this action-packed story captures the siblings' efforts to keep the boat on course day and night, and their attempts to care for their mother and younger brother. A fast-paced novel that will appeal to both boys and girls.-Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Can three children and their catatonic mother survive crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat? Lots of dubious events swirl through this quick-paced thriller as three young children who have never sailed embark on a boat manned by their mother and her new boyfriend, a seasoned seat-of-the-pants sailor. However, despite his experience, he has just time enough to teach the kids to steer and improbably disable the engine before falling overboard. The three children must take care of mum, who has a history of mental illness and takes to her bed, overwhelmed and silent. Jack and Orrie, the two older kids, speak in a clipped storyline that never hedges. Improbably, they don't turn back, deciding to cross the Atlantic where their biological father awaits. They alternately stand watches around the clock on their near month-long journey while Andy, the seven-year-old, cooks. And even more unlikely, they eschew rescue by a freighter, facing a Force Ten (violent gale) storm and, yes, surviving. And guess what? Mum wakes up just in time to determine they are (only) 200 miles off course. There is little more than the adventure to recommend this, as author Neale plumbs no depths of the real effects of fear or fatigue. There are some nuances of character, e.g., when Andy tells unresponding Mum a story, or when Jack sails on, fantasizing about a girl he barely met. But this is a gripping narrative, and its simplicity may be ideal for children with trouble reading. (Fiction. 8-12)
From the Publisher

"Neale has written a tense, exciting adventure story with likable, believable main characters…A fast-paced novel that will appeal to both boys and girls." School Library Journal

"Neale's first children's novel offers readers a white-knuckle read…kids who crave adventure tales will likely enjoy this rocky ride." Publishers Weekly

"Neale is a clever naval and novel architect: the setup is perfect… Ultimately, this is a seriously gripping survival story, suitable for suspenseful reading aloud." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Product dimensions:
(w) x (h) x 0.31(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Jonathan Neale was born in New York City and now lives in London. He is the author of books of nonfiction and fiction for adults, though this is his first novel for young people. He has traveled in India, Nepal, Japan, Vietnam, the islands around Tahiti, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Venezuela, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. He has also sailed across the Atlantic in a small boat.

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Lost at Sea 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really dont read books but when i got this book i started to read then it got better and better. i love this book!!