Good-Bye for Today: The Diary of a Young Girl at Sea

Peter Roop, Author, Connie Roop, Author, Thomas B. Allen, Illustrator Atheneum Books $16 (48p) ISBN 978-0-689-82222-3
Careful research underpins this intriguing tale set aboard a whaling ship in 1871. Based on the experiences of two real children who traveled with their families at sea, an exciting story unfolds through the daily journal entries of nine-year-old Laura, who sails from Japan to Arctic whaling grounds with her parents and younger brother (she ends each entry with the words ""Good-bye for today""). The Roops (Girl of the Shining Mountains: Sacagawea's Story) deftly winnow history for details that will delight and fascinate young readers, from a pet duck who falls overboard to descriptions of food (hardtack biscuits had to be tapped on the table until the weevils fell out), shipboard accidents and encounters with Eskimos (who wear pieces of ivory in holes in their cheeks, reports Laura) and more. The taut narrative offers adventure as well: Laura learns to sail with her father on one of the slender whaleboats and, in the final passages, relies on that skill to rescue her family after they abandon ship in an ice field. In an attractive design, Allen's (A Place Called Freedom) ink sketches (purporting to be Laura's own) pepper the diary entries, while a handful of double-spread illustrations in colored pencil and oil wash further enlivens the book. Ages 7-10. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
Genre: Children's
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