cover image The True Adventure of Daniel Hall

The True Adventure of Daniel Hall

Diane Stanley. Dial Books, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1468-7

Stanley bases this riveting tale on Daniel Hall's own account of the four-year journey that took him from his hometown of New Bedford, Mass., to the wilds of Siberia. In 1856, just days before his 15th birthday, Daniel fulfilled a lifelong dream and set sail on a whaling ship. In concise, evocative prose, Stanley explains that the trip quickly became nightmarish: no whales are spotted for 10 months and--far worse--the cruel and violent captain displays a particular dislike for Daniel. When the tyrant refuses to release the boy from service, Daniel begins to plot his escape, and seizes his chance one cold night in Siberia. There, injured from the captain's beatings, he survives an eight-month-long winter, complete with attacks by bears and wolves. Finally, in a heartwarming passage that has all the drama of fiction, Daniel spots a whaling ship as it lowers a boat to fetch him. Stanley illuminates the lives of 19th-century whalers while vividly portraying her protagonist. Although it is not as thoroughly stunning as her work in Cleopatra and Bard of Avon, her meticulous art--here rendered in pastels on sanded paper--is steeped in period detail and abounds with energy. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)