K-Gr 3-A well-told story with distinctive characters. In 1850, Ned, an eight-year-old Cape Cod boy, takes a job as a cook on a fishing schooner in order to support his mother and his younger siblings. While Ned finds the life difficult, he makes friends with the crew and becomes especially fond of an older sailor who is in charge of salting the cod. Ezra explains that the vessel will return home when the salt runs out. Ned wastes the preservative whenever possible, hoping to return to port in time for his birthday. Therefore, he is surprised when Ezra announces that the salt, which Ned knows was not in short supply, is gone. Readers will sympathize with the child and share his joy when he is able to celebrate his special day with his family. There is also humor, particularly when the crew plays a trick on him and everyone enjoys the joke. The illustrations, in soft pastel watercolors, are evocative of the sunlit journey. Hays uses full-page spreads and smaller-scaled illustrations effectively, and children will be fascinated by the drawings of the schooner in full sail. The tale is based on an actual narrative by Joshua Taylor, who signed on as a sailor at age nine. Because it is based on primary sources, it should meet some of the new curriculum demands and will be useful for American history units.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.