The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

4.6 246
by Avi

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Avi's treasured Newbery Honor Book now in expanded After Words edition!

Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832.

But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea

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Avi's treasured Newbery Honor Book now in expanded After Words edition!

Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832.

But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea voyage with a cruel captain and a mutinous crew. Worse yet, soon after stepping aboard the ship, she becomes enmeshed in a conflict between them! What begins as an eagerly anticipated ocean crossing turns into a harrowing journey, where Charlotte gains a villainous enemy . . . and is put on trial for murder!

After Words material includes author Q & A, journal writing tips, and other activities that bring Charlotte's world to life!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


*"A thrilling tale, tautly plotted, vividly narrated."-Kirkus, starred review

*"Riveting. Nonstop action. A story hard to forget."-Booklist, starred review

*"A breathtaking seafaring adventure."-School Library Journal, starred review

Newbery Honor Book
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award
ALA Notable Children's Book
ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Booklist Editors' Choice
The Horn Book Fanfare Book
NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
IRA Children's Choice

Children's Literature - Kristi Bernard
If you love a good mystery then pick through these pages and unravel its wonderful tale. But be warned, states Charlotte, "Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But I was just such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago." Charlotte Doyle boards the Seahawk to journey alone from England to America. With only Captain Jaggery and an old, black kitchen hand named Zachariah as potential friends, she attempts to find a way to remain a lady. As she shares a ship with an unruly and decrepit looking crew, her fears and imagination begin to take hold. Charlotte discovers a mysterious stowaway along with a plot of mutiny. She tells the Captain her fears and he gathers the crew. Charlotte is witness to the Captain's rage and murder of the stowaway, and the whipping of Zachariah. As Charlotte attempts to save Zachariah she later learns that she insulted the Captain in front of his crew. Charlotte realizes that she has no allies on the ship. In order to make amends with the overworked crew she lends herself to become one of them. As she regains the trust of the crew her eyes are soon opened to the wrath of the Captain. It is up to her to survive the best she can. Originally published in 1990, this reissue will introduce new readers to Avi's Newbery Honor book. Reviewer: Kristi Bernard
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Told in the form of a recollection, these ``confessions'' cover 13-year-old Charlotte's eventful 1832 transatlantic crossing. She begins her trip a prim schoolgirl returning home to her American family from England. From the start, there is something wrong with the Seahawk : the families that were to serve as Charlotte's chaperones do not arrive, and the unsavory crew warns her not to make the trip. When the crew rebels, Charlotte first sides with the civilized Captain Jaggerty, but before long she realizes that he is a sadist and--the only female aboard--she joins the crew as a seaman. Charlotte is charged with murder and sentenced to be hanged before the trip is over, but ends up in command of the Seahawk by the time it reaches its destination. Charlotte's repressive Puritanical family refuses to believe her tale, and the girl returns to the sea. Charlotte's story is a gem of nautical adventure, and Avi's control of tone calls to mind William Golding's 1980s trilogy of historical novels of the sea. Never wavering from its 19th century setting, the novel offers suspense and entertainment modern-day readers will enjoy. Ages 11-13. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Charlotte's journal of her transatlantic voyage, June 1832, as the only passenger on the brig Seahawk, is breathtaking reading. Always the obedient daughter, Charlotte sees no reason to change when she sails with Captain Jaggery and his 12-man crew. Loyal to him, she is the cause of the death of 2 of the seamen and becomes an enemy of the crew. When she discovers Jaggery's evil nature, she realizes she is in danger. The only way to gain the crew's trust is to become one of them. Her fearlessness is awesome and in this process of change, she becomes a spirited and independent young woman. 1993 (orig.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8On a long, grueling journey from England to Rhode Island in 1802, a 12 year old changes from a prim and proper girl to a swashbuckling mate of a mutinous crew and is accused of murder by the captain. Awash with shipboard activity, intense feelings, and a keen sense of time and place, the story is a throwback to good old-fashioned adventure yarns on the high seas. (Sept. 1990)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Part One

Chapter One

Just before dusk in the late afternoon of June 16, 1832, 1 found myself walking along the crowded docks of Liverpool, England, following a man by the name of Grummage. Though a business associate of my father, Mr. Grummage was, like my father, a gentleman. It was he my father delegated to make the final arrangements for my passage to America. He was also to meet me when I came down from school on the coach, then see me safely stowed aboard the ship that my father had previously selected.

Mr. Grummage was dressed in a black frock coat with a stove pipe hat that added to his considerable height. His somber, sallow face registered no emotion. His eyes might have been those of a dead fish.

"Miss Doyle?" he said as I stepped from the Liverpool coach.

"Yes, sit. Are you Mr. Grummage?"

"I am."

"Pleased to meet you," I said, dipping a curtsy.

"Quite," he returned. "Now, Miss Doyle, if you would be so good as to indicate which is your trunk, I have a man here to carry it. Next, please oblige me by following, and everything shall be as it is meant to be."

"Might I say good-bye to my chaperon?"

"Is that necessary?"

"She's been very kind."

"Make haste then."

In a flutter of nervousness I identified my trunk, threw my arms about Miss Emerson (my sweet companion for the trip down), and bid her a tearful farewell. Then I rushed after Mr. Grummage, who had already begun to move on. A rough-looking porter, laboring behind, carried my trunk upon his back.

Our little parade reached dockside in good order. There I became instantly agog at the mass of ships that lay before us,masts and spars thick as the bristles on a brush. Everywhere I looked I saw mountains of rare goods piled high. Bales of silk and tobacco! Chests of tea! A parrot! A monkey! Oh yes, the smell of the sea was intoxicating to one who knew little more than the smell of the trim cut lawns and the fields of the Barrington School. Then too, the surging crowds of workers, sailors, and merchants-all rough-hewn, brawny men--created an exotic late afternoon hubbub. All in all it was a most delicious chaos, which, while mildly menacing, was no less exciting because of that. Indeed, in some vague way I had the feeling that it was all there for me.

"Mr. Grummage, sit," I called over the din. "What is the name of the ship I'm to sail on?"

Mr. Grummage paused briefly to look at me as though surprised I was there, to say nothing of asking a question. Then from one of his pockets he drew a screw of paper. Squinting at it he pronounced, "The Seahawk."

"Is she British or American?"


"A merchant ship?"

"To be sure."

"How many masts?"

"I don't know."

"Will the other families already be on board?"

"I should think so," he answered, exasperation in his voice. "For your information, Miss Doyle, I received word that departure was being put off, but when I checked with the captain directly he informed me that there must have been some misunderstanding. The ship is scheduled to leave with the first tide tomorrow morning. So there can be no delay."

To prove the point he turned to move again. 1, however, unable to quell my excited curiosity, managed to slip in one more question.

"Mr, Grummage, sir, what is the captain's name?"

Mr. Grummage stopped again, frowning in an irritated fashion, but all the same consulted his paper. "Captain Jaggery," he announced and once more turned to go.

"Here!" the porter exclaimed suddenly. He had come up close and overheard our talk. Both Mr. Grummage and I looked about.

"Did you say Captain Jaggery?" the porter demanded.

"Are you addressing me?" Mr. Grummage inquired, making it perfectly clear that if so, the porter had committed a serious breach of decorum.

"I was," the man said, talking over my head. "And I'm asking if I heard right when you said we was going to a ship mastered by a certain Captain Jaggery." He spoke the name Jaggery as if it were something positively loathsome.

"I was not addressing you," Mr. Grummage informed the man.

"But I hears you all the same," the porter went on, and so saying, he swung my trunk down upon the dock with such a ferocious crack that I feared it would snap in two. "I don't intend to take one more step toward anything to do with a Mr. Jaggery. Not for double gold. Not one more step."

"See here," Mr. Grummage cried with indignation. "You undertook..."

"Never mind what I undertook," the man retorted. "It's worth more to me to avoid that man than to close with your coin." And without other word he marched off.

"Stop! I say, stop!" Mr. Grummage called. It was in vain. The porter had gone, and quickly at that.

Mr. Grummage and I looked at each other. I hardly knew what to make of it. Nor, clearly, did he. Yet he did what he had to do: he surveyed the area in search of a replacement.

"There! You man!" he cried to the first who passed by, a huge laboring fellow in a smock. "Here's a shilling if you can carry this young lady's trunk!"

The man paused, looked at Mr. Grummage, at me, at the trunk. "That?" he asked disdainfully.

"I'll be happy to add a second shilling," I volunteered, thinking that a low offer was the problem.

"Miss Doyle," Mr. Grummage snapped. "Let me handle this."

"Two shillings," the workman said quickly.

"One," Mr. Grummage countered.

"Two," the workman repeated and held his hand out to Mr. Grummage, who gave him but one coin. Then the man turned and extended his hand to me.

Hastily I began to extract a coin from my reticule.

"Miss Doyle!" Mr. Grummage objected.

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Meet the Author

Avi's work spans nearly every genre and has received nearly every major prize, including the Newbery Medal for CRISPIN: THE CROSS OF LEAD and Newbery Honors for NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH and THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE. Avi lives in Denver, Colorado. You can visit him online at

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964

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