cover image Stowaway


Karen Hesse. Listening Library, $30 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8072-6169-9

Listeners set sail with 11-year-old Nicholas Young, a stowaway aboard Captain Cook's ship Endeavour, in this solid audiobook version of Hesse's period adventure. In a pleasant English accent, Cale smoothly reads the pages of Young's journal, chronicling a dangerous 1768-1771 voyage from England to an area south of New Zealand where Cook and his crew searched for a new continent. Despite his gaining passage illegally, Nick proves a worthy ship hand to Cook and his crew of 80-plus men, rising through the ranks to become the ship surgeon's assistant. Through Nick's innocent eyes, listeners explore exotic terrain, experience day-to-day life among seamen and face life-or-death situations generated by the unpredictable nature of weather, wind and water. Upon returning to England, after most of the crew has been lost to a typhoid breakout, Nick is emboldened, ready to face the difficult circumstances he first sought to escape by stowing away. The tone of discovery in Cale's voice buoys the proceedings, keeping listeners rapt. An afterword provides historical information about the real Nicholas Young and the Endeavour (though the recording does not include the handy glossary and ship's crew list and itinerary that are provided in the book). Ages 10-up. (Dec.)