cover image Polaris


Michael Northrop. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-545-29716-5

In a chilling tale of horror on the high seas, set in the 1830s, a scientific mission to the Amazon jungle turns into a desperate struggle for survival after the crew brings something unexpected and terrifying on board. Following a brutal mutiny, every adult on the Polaris is either dead or has fled, leaving behind half a dozen children, including the captain’s 12-year-old nephew Owen, botanist’s assistant Henry, and assorted other ship’s boys, two of whom are girls in disguise. As tempers rise, food grows short, and the sea turns fierce, the young remnants of the Polaris crew must somehow sail the decrepit ship to safe harbor, but an abomination lurks below decks, growing in strength and ferocity. Northrop (the TombQuest series) incorporates a wealth of nautical and historical detail while making skilled use of atmosphere, tension, and a well-developed cast to drive home the darkness of this adventure. A brisk read, but one that is sure to linger after the lights have been turned out. Ages 9–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Oct.)