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Smugglers' Island

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You're crazy, Shadrach Faherty, Davey called.
Crazy! You're going to get yourself killed!

Shadrach is enraged. Bootleggers have taken over his island home, using it as a base from which to run their illegal operations. The community cooperates because its silence has been bought, and times are hard. But Shadrach can't be bought. Instead, he vows to gather all the information he can to bust the criminals. He ...

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You're crazy, Shadrach Faherty, Davey called.
Crazy! You're going to get yourself killed!

Shadrach is enraged. Bootleggers have taken over his island home, using it as a base from which to run their illegal operations. The community cooperates because its silence has been bought, and times are hard. But Shadrach can't be bought. Instead, he vows to gather all the information he can to bust the criminals. He succeeds, but then chooses the wrong man to tell.

Living on a poor island in 1932, a young boy determines, despite his family's bitter opposition, to identify and somehow bring to justice the liquor smugglers who have been terrorizing the island.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688127978
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 520L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Known for his unconventional vision and quirky creative style, Avi has penned scores of children's books that young readers devour with a passion. Twice awarded the Newbery Honor medal for his work, this prolific Pied Piper won the 2003 Newbery Medal for Crispin: The Cross of Lead -- an action-packed adventure set in 14th-century England.


Born in Manhattan in 1937, Avi Wortis grew up in Brooklyn in a family of artists and writers. Despite his bright and inquisitive nature, he did poorly in school. After several academic failures, he was diagnosed with a writing impairment called dysgraphia which caused him to reverse letters and misspell words. The few writing and spelling skills he possessed he had gleaned from his favorite hobby, reading -- a pursuit enthusiastically encouraged in his household.

Following junior high school, Avi was assigned to a wonderful tutor whose taught him basic skills and encouraged in him a real desire to write. "Perhaps it was stubbornness," he recalled in an essay appearing on the Educational Paperback Association's website, "but from that time forward I wanted to write in some way, some form. It was the one thing everybody said I could not do."

Avi finally learned to write, and well! He attended Antioch University, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, and received a master's degree in library science from Columbia in 1964. He worked as a librarian for the New York Public Library's theater collection and for Trenton State College, and taught college courses in children's literature, while continuing to write -- mostly plays -- on the side. In the 1970s, with two sons of his own, he began to craft stories for children. "[My] two boys loved to hear stories," he recalled. "We played a game in which they would give me a subject ('a glass of water') and I would have to make up the story right then. Out of that game came my first children's book, Things That Sometimes Happen." A collection of "Very Short Stories for Little Listeners," Avi's winning debut received very positive reviews. "Sounding very much like the stories that children would make up themselves," raved Kirkus Reviews, "these are daffy and nonsensical, starting and ending in odd places and going sort of nowhere in the middle. The result, however, is inevitably a sly grin."

Avi has gone on to write dozens of books for kids of all ages. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1991) and Nothing but the Truth (1992) were named Newbery Honor Books, and in 2003, he won the prestigious Newbery Medal for his 14th-century adventure tale, Crispin: The Cross of Lead. His books range from mysteries and adventure stories to historical novels and coming-of-age tales; and although there is often a strong moral core to his work, he leavens his message with appealing warmth and humor. Perhaps his philosophy is summed up best in this quote from his author profile on Scholastic's website: "I want my readers to feel, to think, sometimes to laugh. But most of all I want them to enjoy a good read."

Good To Know

In a Q&A with his publisher, Avi named Robert Louis Stevenson as one of his greatest inspirations, noting that "he epitomizes a kind of storytelling that I dearly love and still read because it is true, it has validity, and beyond all, it is an adventure."

When he's not writing, Avi enjoys photography as one of his favorite hobbies.

Avi got his unique nickname from his twin sister, Emily..

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    1. Also Known As:
      Avi Wortis (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 23, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Mr. Faherty Announced That No One Was To go out after dinner.

"How come?" his son, Shadrach, asked.

"Do as you're told," Mr. Faherty replied, and he set Shad to sort a huge pile of rusty screws and bolts.

Usually, Shad's father went out after dinner to have a smoke with the men on the dock while his mother sat by the door and read. Then Shad and his younger brother, Brian, could do what they wanted.

That night the tense looks on his parents' faces, the fact that they too were staying inside, allowed Shad to guess what was happening. The smugglers were coming. And when the smugglers came to Lucker's Island, the island belonged to them.

As it grew dark Mrs. Faherty began to read out loud from an old magazine to help pass the time. It was a story about heroic wireless radio operators during sea storms. Ordinarily, Shad would have been spellbound. That night he couldn't keep still. The thick, heavy feel of coming rain made him restless. His fingers were dry, rust-red from plucking at the metal bits. In the middle of his mother's reading, he said, "These aren't worth a thing."

For a moment no one said a word. Then Mr. Faherty said, "Something."

"Not much," Shad declared, shoving the rusty pile away.

"Got any money in your pockets?" his father asked softly.

Shad colored up. "No, sir," he said. "I don't."

"Well, said his father, I don't either. But I figure something's worth more than nothing. They're worth something."

Shad, frustrated, started to pick at the bits again.

At about nine o'clock the warnings came, raps on front doors along the row of houses, like the ticking of an angry clock. That was the usual way, a single knock on each door, followed by the slap of steps down the wooden walkway.

Hurriedly, Mr. Faherty reached across the table and turned the key of the hurricane lamp. The flaming wick rolled down, sputtered, and went out. Shad took a deep breath. The stale, heavy smell of kerosene hung in the air.

"Mama," whispered Brian, who didn't like the darkness, or the reasons for it, "Mama, they coming now?"

Gently, his mother touched his hand. "Shhh," she said. "Be patient."

Sitting in the dark, Shad tried to stay calm, wondering what was happening outside. He wished he could see the smuggling for himself.

He could picture the island's dock. Just a few paces from their front door it jutted fifty yards into the bay. And he could almost see the fishing fleet, what was left of it, a dozen small, motorized boats. They rubbed against the dock pilings, making scratching sounds that sang of idle emptiness. Other boats, hauled ashore, lay abandoned, sinking on the beaches, drowning beneath the sand. There were plenty of fish in the sea, but no one on land had money to buy them.

About four months before, the smugglers had first come to Lucker's Island, bringing in cases of rum, whisky, gin, slipping past the Coast Guard pickets. It was risky. Very risky. Smugglers who got caught went to jail. Shad's father had warned him that the smugglers carried guns.

But smuggling was worth the risks. Because of Prohibition, liquor was outlawed. Get liquor to the mainland and you could make real money. And in 1932, because of the Depression, lots of people, like Shad's father, had no money at all.

After the light went out, the first sound to break the silence came from the channel bell. Shad couldn't tell whether the bell had been blown by a freshening wind or jostled by the sweeping swell of a passing boat. It rang only once. Now the silence seemed harder for Shad to bear than it had before.

No longer able to keep still, he got up, scraping his chair.

"Sit down!" his father barked.

Ignoring him, Shad went to the window, pressed his forehead against the cool glass, and looked out. At the far end of the dock a single lamp was lit. In the damp blanket of the night the lamp's glow looked like a ripe, fuzzy peach.

The channel bell rang again. This time its one loud clang was followed by two short strokes. It wasn't a natural sound. Took a hand to ring it that way.

Shad wondered whose hand.

Suddenly the dock light went off. All became shadow.

Shad couldn't stand it anymore. He went to the door and pulled it open, rattling the doorknob. His father, springing up, tried to grab him, but Shad moved too quickly. As he went out he shut the door behind him.

Along the street all of the twelve houses were dark.

Clouds, reaching in with fat fingers, blotted out the stars. Only a thin white edge of moon creased the darkness. The air reeked of sea. The rain was coming closer. All Shad could hear was the licking of the water. Yet he knew that someone was out there, that the smugglers were coming in.

Afraid his parents would come after him, Shad moved through the darkness away from the house, across the space that was the street. His bare feet, shoeless since the weather had turned warm, hardly felt the rock chips or shell shards that lay upon the ground.

He came up against a large wagon, once used for hauling fish. Eyes riveted on the dock, Shad climbed the wagon, using the wheel spokes as rungs.

Gradually, he was able to make out the shape of a boat. Motor cut off, it was gently coasting, slipping through the water, coming closer.

There was a muffled thump as the boat struck the dock. Wooden posts creaked as they shifted with the impact. A surge of waves washed against the shore.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2006

    12 yr old's opinion

    I really like Avi and everyone of his books, but I think that if you want a really good book, you shouldn't consider this one. Like all of his books, he has great literary elements, but his vocab is very low in this book, and it gets kind of boring at times. Other than that, Smuggler's Island is a great book to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2003

    Smugglers Island

    Smugglers Island is a book written by Avi. It is about a boy who wants to stop the leader of the smugglers in his island. Imagine if you are a 12-year-old boy. You are the only person on the island that has enough courage to try to get rid of the leader of the smugglers. Your parents are scared of the leader of the smugglers and the townspeople are scared also. You have an 11-year-old younger brother that wants to help you but you tell him that he will get hurt. But really you don¿t want him to bug you. When you try to do something your parents hold you back so you have to sneak out the back door. You can¿t find anyone to help you but your best friend Davey until you find a person who you think works for the government. Smugglers Island is an exciting, historical fiction book that puts the reader on the edge of their seat. I like this book because it takes place on an island and it is exciting book but I don¿t like this book because it goes too slow, for example, the story starts with smuggling, but then it tells you things that aren¿t very important. Also it takes a while to build up to the climax. I thought Smugglers Island was an OK book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2000

    Smuggler's Island

    Smuggler's Island is a novel of Historical Fiction, set in 1932. Lucker's Island has become the center of an illegal whisky and gin operation. Since Prohibition is enforced no one can legally drink liquor. Shad Faherity is a twelve-year-old daredevil who decides to bring the smugglers to justice. He is tired of the way his friends and neighbors are being terrorized. The story line moves quickly with some plot twists and suspensful moments.

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