AGERANGE: Ages 12 up.
"Up Ship!" That is the cry of the Aurora crew as the airship takes flight over the Pacificus ocean. Thus begins this adventure of the skies filled with a luxury airship, dedicated crew, rich passengers, greedy pirates, mid-air rescue, shipwreck, and a dead man's discovery of a strange creature. Matt Cruse, a cabin boy who aspires to be sailmaker, is the likable protagonist in this captivating tale. This lighter than air cabin boy proves his mettle when he attempts and succeeds in rescuing an elderly man from a damaged hot air balloon stranded in the sky. Although the man ultimately dies, he leaves behind a journal with entries and sketches of fantastic sightings of flying creatures--half mammal and half reptile. One year later, his granddaughter Kate DeVries, is flying over the Pacificus on the Aurora to try to validate her grandfather's sightings. When this headstrong heroine joins forces with Matt Cruse, sparks fly. They outsmart her dreadful chaperone, defy ship regulations, and battle fierce pirates in moving toward Kate's goal. Matt is an engaging character. His heart is in the right place and he always tries to do the right thing, even in the face of difficult circumstances. When Captain Walken informs him that he has lost his promotion to sailmaker because of nepotism, Matt soldiers on, chin held high, no dereliction in duties. And when facing down pirates and the carnivorous cloud creature, Matt keeps his cool. This recording, which includes ten CDs and lasts ten hours, will leave listeners hanging on the edge of their seats. The voices of the actors bring the characters to life; they are full of enthusiasm, evil intent, haughtiness, and pride, as thesituation demands. The recording has such energy and will transport listeners to a different place and time as they get caught up in this good, old-fashioned, thrilling adventure story. The print version of the book, on which the recording is based, was selected as a Printz Honor Book. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
Frustrated by his lowly cabin-boy status, Matt Cruse is bent on advancing in rank while serving on the mammoth airship Aurora. When a damaged balloon piloted by a weakened elderly man draws near the dirigible, Matt's diminutive size is an asset. The intrepid teen volunteers to leap the narrow gap between the aircraft and rescue the balloonist. Saved but dying, the pilot demands to know if Matt saw the "flying beasts." Flashing ahead one year, the Aurora embarks on a voyage transporting passengers from Lionsgate City to Sydney, Australia. A late-arriving teen, Kate de Vries, charms Matt, launching a platonic courtship. Isolated in the vast atmosphere above the ocean, the Aurora is plundered by pirates, its gasbags slashed by the rogue vessel's propellers, and the airship crashes onto a desert island, the buccaneer hideout. Exploring the jungle, Kate and Matt encounter elusive Cloud Cats, the mysterious flying beasts described by the dying balloonist. Captured and imprisoned by the pirate gang, the duo escapes only to stumble onto an underground deposit of hydrium necessary to raise the ship, but first they must thwart the robber's plans to murder Aurora's crew. Kate and Matt are given equal roles in this adventure laced with a touch of fantasy reminiscent of Treasure Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Committing several murders, the pirates are typically unsavory but are not stock cartoon characters. This title, packed with suspense, fantasy, and thrills, is a solid selection geared to middle school boys. VOYA Codes 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, HarperCollins, 368p., and PLB Ages 11 to 18.
Oppel, the author of the Silverwing series about bats, turns his attention here to other things that fly: blimp-like airships that travel the skyways, as well as mysterious winged mammals dubbed "cloud cats." Our protagonist and narrator is brave young Matt, a cabin boy on the airship Aurora. When a hot-air balloon threatens to collide with the Aurora, agile Matt is able to swing over and avert catastrophe. The gravely ill balloonist mutters about seeing strange flying creatures, and at first Matt thinks he's raving. Then, a year later, the balloonist's granddaughter, Kate, arrives on the Aurora as a passenger, eager to further investigate the existence of these animals. When the airship is boarded by pirates and then crash-lands on an uncharted desert island near where Kate's grandfather had spotted the creatures, the two young people explore their surroundings and encounter a beautiful but dangerous specimen. This fantasy is set in an unspecified era, perhaps 100 years ago, when girls were expected to act ladylikeof course Kate is uninterested in becoming a lady, and instead eager to become a scientist. She is as brave as Matt, and the two have adventure after adventure in this exciting tale, which will appeal to upper elementary, middle school, and junior high students. KLIATT Codes: J*Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2004, HarperCollins, 368p., and Ages 12 to 15.
Gr 6-10-An original and imaginative Victorian-era fantasy. Matt, 15, only feels alive when he's aloft working as a cabin boy aboard the Aurora, a luxury airship that is part dirigible, part passenger cruise ship. When wealthy Kate and her chaperone come aboard, Matt soon discovers that she is determined to prove her grandfather's claims that he saw strange creatures flying in the sky in that area the year before. The man's diary describes them as huge, furry beasts with batlike wings and sharp claws. Soon after Kate arrives, pirates attack the ship and rob the wealthy passengers. A storm forces the damaged Aurora to set down on a seemingly deserted island. Kate and Matt discover the skeletal remains of one of the creatures, and, later, a live but deformed one that lives among the treetops. In their attempts to photograph "the cloud cat," they stumble upon the pirates' hideout and are captured. Can they escape in time to stop the brigands from stealing the Aurora? Will Kate prove the existence of this undiscovered species? This rousing adventure has something for everyone: appealing and enterprising characters, nasty villains, and a little romance. Oppel provides glimpses of the social conventions of the era, humorous byplay between the main characters, and comic relief in the form of Matt's cabin mate and Kate's straitlaced chaperone. Reminiscent of Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines (HarperCollins, 2003), this adventure is much lighter in tone and has a lower body count.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Entrancing, exciting adventure with airships, pirates, and mysterious flying mammals takes place on an earth with the same geography as ours but different technology. Fifteen-year-old Matt works as cabin boy on the Aurora, a two-million-pound airship kept aloft by gas cells filled with hydrium, the lightest gas in the world. Matt loves the skies; aground, he feels stifled and claustrophobically disconnected from his late father, who was also an Aurora worker. Kate, a rich passenger Matt's age, boards the Aurora in search of furry, flying sky mammals mentioned in her late grandfather's journal but unknown to anyone else. A pirate attack forces an emergency landing on an uncharted island in the Pacificus ocean. Matt's intricate knowledge of his ship and Kate's cheerfully stubborn determination bring them, scrabbling hard, to victory over the brutal pirates and discovery of the wondrous cloud cats. Full of a sense of air, flying details, and action. (airship diagram) (Fantasy. 10-14)