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Children's LiteratureWhat happened to Mary whose father Fletcher Christian led the mutiny on the HMS Bounty? Did she and he return to England from Pitcairn Island? No one really knows, but this engrossing novel explores the possibilities. The author sets the scene with historical background then launches into a life that might have been. Fourteen-year-old Mary lives with her grandmother on the Isle of Man. She longs to see her father who disappeared shortly after returning. Nobody will even talk about him, since his actions disgraced the family. Her uncle offers to send her to school in London, where she knows she must uphold what's left of the family honor. The appealing heroine faces many challenges, not the least of which is a roommate determined to compromise her honor and expose her closely-held secrets. When Mary proposes a charitable project for the students, she gets to know a man who may or may not be her father. The author, who provides a strong bibliography at the end of the book, deftly weaves the atmosphere of the early 19th century throughout the fascinating story. Samuel Taylor Coleridge whose poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was supposed to be about Fletcher Christian, visits Mary's school to talk about his poetry. And there are references to Charles Lamb, William Wordsworth, the actor John Kemble and other prominent figures of the time. Ms. Rinaldi, author of more than 30 novels, has had eight of her novels named ALA Best Books for Young Adults. 2004, Harper Collins Publishers, Ages 8 to 12.
—Janet Crane Barley