Powder Monkey

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Overview

Thirteen-year-old Sam Witchall has always dreamed of being a sailor, but he never realized how dangerous and gruesome life at sea could be until he is pressed into service aboard HMS Miranda. Beginning his naval career as a "powder monkey"—assisting the gun crews on the warship—Sam learns the ropes of sailing and how to cope with enemies both foreign and onboard the Miranda herself.

With enough battles, storms, and shipwrecks to thrill young ...
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Overview

Thirteen-year-old Sam Witchall has always dreamed of being a sailor, but he never realized how dangerous and gruesome life at sea could be until he is pressed into service aboard HMS Miranda. Beginning his naval career as a "powder monkey"—assisting the gun crews on the warship—Sam learns the ropes of sailing and how to cope with enemies both foreign and onboard the Miranda herself.

With enough battles, storms, and shipwrecks to thrill young fans of the Master and Commander series, this rousing historical adventure introduces a new generation to an exciting era, when a lowly powder monkey could grow up to be a hero.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-This novel details the hardships of a sailor's life as seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old boy. It is 1800 in Norfolk, England, and Sam Witchall begs to go off to sea. Eventually his unwilling father secures him a post on a merchant ship but his fears come true when Sam is pressed into service aboard the HMS Miranda as a powder monkey, running gun powder from below deck to his cannon crew. His skill is soon tested in the heat of battle. Readers will be absorbed in the day-to-day life of young Sam, and his vivid tale will keep them on edge as he tries to escape his commission. He is forced to confront all of the things that can plague a sailor: fierce fighting, raging storms, cruel punishment, mutiny, and death. Not for the faint of heart, this novel is a brilliant introduction to the likes of C. S. Forester's classic "Horatio Hornblower" saga.-Kimberly Monaghan, formerly at Vernon Area Public Library, IL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pressed into service aboard a Napoleonic-era British frigate, a lad finds himself amid rough company, with only the gnawing fear of violent death to offer relief from the nauseating food, brutish bosuns' mates, sneering officers and constant threats of flogging. Dowswell has done his historical homework, though he presents the results awkwardly by having characters explain such terms as "prize money" at length to young Sam while tiptoeing past foul language and homosexuality with only oblique references. Still, readers who prefer their wooden decks awash in blood "and worse" will not be disappointed-and even Sam, having survived (unlike nearly all of his shipmates) cannon fire, capture and shipwreck, opts to return to the Navy rather than escape back to his native Norfolk. Stronger on terror than triumph, this isn't quite as rousing as the likes of Michael Molloy's Peter Raven Under Fire (p. 687) or Gerald Hausman's tales of Tom Cringle, but voracious fans of the nautical genre will happily sign on. (Fiction. 12-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780747577041
  • Publisher: Gardners Books
  • Publication date: 10/3/2005

Meet the Author

A former editor, Paul Dowswell is the author or co-author of over 50 acclaimed nonfiction books for children on historical and scientific topics. This is his first work of fiction. He lives in Wolverhampton, England, with his wife and daughter.

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