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Alone at sea, with only the stars to guide them...
The proud sailing ship Polaris is on a mission to explore new lands, and its crew is eager to bring their discoveries back home. But when half the landing party fails to return from the Amazon jungle, the tensions lead to a bloody mutiny. The remaining adults abandon ship, leaving behind a cabin boy, a botanist's assistant, and a handful of deckhands -- none of them older than twelve. Troubled by whispers of a strange tropical illness and rumors of a wild beast lurking onshore, the young sailors are desperate to steer the vessel to safety. When one of their own already missing and a strange smell drifting up from below deck, the novice crew begins to suspect that someone -- or something -- else is onboard. Having steeled themselves for the treacherous journey home, they now have more to fear than the raging waters of the Atlantic...
About the Author
Michael Northrop is the New York Times bestselling author of TombQuest, an epic book and game adventure series featuring the magic of ancient Egypt. He is also the author of Trapped, an Indie Next List selection, and Plunked, a New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection and an NPR Backseat Book Club pick. An editor at Sports Illustrated Kids for many years, he now writes full-time from his home in New York City. Learn more at michaelnorthrop.net.
Read an Excerpt
Aaron lifted his head and drew in a long breath through his nose. "Is that smoke?" he said.
Owen sniffed the air. It was smoke. He leaned closer to the door. A gust of wind whistled through the gap, and suddenly the smell was stronger. "We have to get out of here!" he said.
This time, the others didn't argue. They rushed the door together. Owen and Aaron, the two largest, were in front. They buried their shoulders into the wood as the smaller boys pushed from behind. But the wood was thick. Owen's shoulder ached as they drew back and crashed into the door for the third, fourth, and then fifth time. Stars burst and swirled across his vision. Finally, on the sixth try, he heard a dry, splintering sound. The door was pulling away from one of its heavy iron hinges. He shifted over, targeting that edge, and with two more bull rushes, the old door broke free.
Owen stepped through first, squinting into flickering firelight and coughing on thick smoke. His fists were clenched, ready for a fight, but the threat he saw was far more explosive. "What the blazes?" he said as the others filed out behind him.
It was a fitting oath, because in the center of the deck, a fire was burning. A length of rolled-up sailcloth had been curled into a semicircle, with one end aflame and the other end wedged beneath a wooden barrel.
"That's gunpowder!" shouted Aaron.