Secrets at Sea

Secrets at Sea

3.9 20
by Richard Peck
     
 

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The adorable tale of a family of mice stowaways on an adventurous ship's journey

In the beloved tradition of The Borrowers, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Cricket in Times Square, here is an irresistible adventure story about the tiny creatures who secretly live among us humans, as only Newbery Medal winner Richard Peck could imagine it. Set

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Overview

The adorable tale of a family of mice stowaways on an adventurous ship's journey

In the beloved tradition of The Borrowers, The Tale of Despereaux, and The Cricket in Times Square, here is an irresistible adventure story about the tiny creatures who secretly live among us humans, as only Newbery Medal winner Richard Peck could imagine it. Set on a grand cruise ship to England in 1887, this beautifully illustrated tale of a charming family of mice is full of laughs, near misses, and surprises. Multiple-award-winning author Richard Peck at his best and most playful!

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 2–6—The Cranston home is shared by a human and a mouse family in Richard Peck's witty novel (Dial, 2011) set in 1887. Mr. and Mrs. Cranston decide that it is time to travel abroad to find a husband for their oldest daughter, Olive. This sets in motion an unforgettable journey for both families as Helena, the oldest mouse, decides to take her family along on the trip across the Atlantic, hidden inside a steamer trunk amongst the gloves and handkerchiefs. While onboard, the family of mice shares various adventures by making new friends, trying to avoid the ship's cat, and working together to intervene in the destiny of their human family. In turn, their own fates are made clear as well. This charming tale is enlivened by the engaging, expressive voice of Jayne Entwistle. A good choice for fans of Kate Di Camillo's The Tale of Despereaux, The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, or The Borrowers by Mary Norton.—Lyn Gebhard, Sparta Public Library, NJ
Elisabeth Egan
…witty and wise…Secrets at Sea is Peck's 33rd novel for children…He has proved himself many times over as a story­teller—and now, definitively, as a humorist. Helena's tale is rife with snappy asides and clever but never heavy-handed mentions of mouse-centric nursery rhymes like "Hickory Dickory Dock." These comic touches blend seamlessly with Peck's moving story, avoiding the buffoonery trap while still remaining accessible to young readers.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist Peck’s (A Year Down Yonder) dry wit and gentle jabs at social mannerisms appear in full force in this charming tale of a 19th-century mouse family traveling abroad. The story begins when house-mouse Helena and her younger siblings get wind that the human residents upstairs, the Cranstons, are planning to go to Europe to find a proper husband for elder daughter Olive. Not wanting to be left behind in an empty, crumb-free abode, the mice sneak onto the ship, despite their fear of water. “Time is always running out for us mice, and water often figures in,” remarks Helena, whose delightfully genteel narration carries the novel. Once aboard, Helena and her siblings are surprised to find a “major infestation” of other mice traveling with their human housemates. While trying to avoid the ship’s one-eyed “kill-crazy” cat, they scurry from one adventure to the next, rubbing elbows with aristocracy and finding unexpected romance. Readers—especially fans of Beatrix Potter—will revel in the detailed descriptions of mouse-sized joys, woes, and love connections, all beautifully depicted in Murphy’s soft pencil illustrations. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
The New York Times
“Rife with snappy asides and clever but never heavy-handed.”
Booklist
“By turns poignant and playful, engaging and exciting, and with a touch of romance, the story will have great appeal for the audience.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Readers who like their animals cute, their history entertaining, and their endings happy will find full satisfaction here.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Mr. Peck, a master at blending memorable characters, humor, history, and page-turning stories, is in top form here.”
Chicago Tribune
“Peck’s eye for family dynamics is excellent.”
Horn Book
* “The rodent world meets Upstairs, Downstairs in this rollicking comedy of manners that begs to be read aloud.”
Common Sense Media
Essential Books for Kids & Teens
From the Publisher
“Rife with snappy asides and clever but never heavy-handed.” — The New York Times

* “Readers will revel in the detailed descriptions of mouse-sized joys, woes, and love connections.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

* “Is there anything Newbery Medalist Peck cannot do? Apparently not…Whimsical language, sure characterization, unflagging adventure, even romance.” — Kirkus, starred review

* “The rodent world meets Upstairs, Downstairs in this rollicking comedy of manners that begs to be read aloud.” — Horn Book, starred review

“By turns poignant and playful, engaging and exciting, and with a touch of romance, the story will have great appeal for the audience.” — Booklist

“The fast-paced story is peppered with the author’s characteristic sly wit and is pure fun.” — School Library Journal

“Readers who like their animals cute, their history entertaining, and their endings happy will find full satisfaction here.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Mr. Peck, a master at blending memorable characters, humor, history, and page-turning stories, is in top form here.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Peck’s eye for family dynamics is excellent.” — Chicago Tribune

Essential Books for Kids & Teens — Common Sense Media

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Helena, the oldest of the four orphaned mice siblings, says there is nothing she wouldn't do to keep her family together. However, she never anticipated that would include taking an ocean voyage from America to England for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. The Upstairs Cranstons and this mouse family inhabit the same home. When Mr. and Mrs. Cranston decide to go to Europe to "marry off" their daughter, Olive, the mice stowaway in a steamer trunk. Helena discovers during the voyage how to keep her family together while bravely facing life's difficulties, supporting one another and discovering that everyone has secrets and strengths. Idioms about cats are widely used throughout the story and add a distinctive literary dimension. Readers who are just getting into chapter books will appreciate having Murphy's illustrations throughout the book. They show these delightfully interesting mice and details of their mouse world as they work, play and interact with significant humans. Peck's understated humor is at work here, making this a delightful family read aloud. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—In his first venture into animal fantasy, Peck weaves a delicious tale of three mice—Helena, Louise, and Beatrice—and their troublesome brother, Lamont. Their ordered life in the Hudson Valley home of the socially inept Cranston family is thrown into turmoil as they find themselves on an ocean voyage, accompanying their unwitting humans who are hoping to marry off their elder daughter in England. Helena, who has assumed the parental role since their father was killed by a barn cat and their mother and two sisters drowned in a rain barrel, must help her siblings overcome their fear of water and keep them out of human sight as they avoid the ship's cat, negotiate corridors, and slip in and out of staterooms. They meet other mice who are accompanying their humans on the trip: the influential Duchess of Cheddar Gorge, with connections to Queen Victoria; Nigel, the ship's steward who entices Lamont into his service; and dashing Lord Peter Henslow, mouse equerry to the human Lord Peter. Chaos, intrigue, and romance ensue, culminating in a royal rodent wedding, synchronized with the queen's Diamond Jubilee. The Upstairs, Downstairs motif works nicely, and personalities, both human and anthropomorphic, interact to hilarious effect. The fast-paced story is peppered with the author's characteristic sly wit and is pure fun. It is sure to be enjoyed by fans of Avi's "Poppy" series as well as by mouse lovers of all ages.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Kirkus Reviews

Problem novels, ghost stories, historical fiction—is there anything Newbery Medalist Peck cannot do? Apparently not.

Helena Cranston, oldest surviving member of her family after the deaths of both her parents and her sisters Vicky and Alice, has her hands full: dreamy sister Beatrice and skittery sister Louise keep sneaking out at night—Helena fears inappropriate liaisons—while brother Lamontskips school for more dangerous pursuits.Worse yet, the Upper Cranstons, dissatisfied with Hudson Valleybeaux, are embarking for England to catch daughter Olive a husband.Europe, as Helena knows, is across a very large body of water, and Helena, being a mouse, fears water with all her heart.Yet soon she and her family, secreted in one of the Cranstons' steamer trunks, are carried onboard ship, where they discover an aristocraticmouse society heretofore unknown, including the Mouse-in-Waiting to Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's daughter, who shows Helenathat mice can in fact change history—at least on a mouse-sized scale.Peck must havehad a blast writing this.Whimsical language, sure characterization, unflagging adventure,even romance—all seen through Helena's relentlessly practical beady little eyes.ThinkThe Tale of Despereauxwithout the twee.

Sheer delight. (final art not seen) (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307968289
Publisher:
Listening Library, Inc.
Publication date:
01/28/2012
Edition description:
Library CD
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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