A historic connection has the power to change the future in this classic, gripping novel from Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper.
Sam Robbins is a farm boy, kidnapped to serve on HMS Victory, the ship on which Lord Nelson will die a hero’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Molly Jennings is a twenty-first-century English girl who’s been transplanted to the United States by her stepfather’s job and is fighting her own battle against loss and loneliness.
Two different lives, two centuries apart, are linked by a tiny scrap of fraying cloth that’s tucked into an old book. It draws Molly into Sam’s world, to a moment in time that changed history—a frightening shared moment that holds the key both to secrets from the past and hope for the future.
In alternating chapters, Newbery Medalist Cooper (The Dark Is Rising) tells the stories of 11-year-old Molly, a contemporary homesick Londoner transplanted to the U.S. because of her mother's remarriage, and Sam, also 11, a 19th-century ship's boy aboard the HMS Victory. Sam also has a new home he's been pressed into service by the Royal Navy and assigned to kitchen duties on Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson's battleship. Initially, the connection between these two children, disparate in time, circumstance and locale, seems tenuous tied only by a biography of Nelson that Molly buys from a bookstore. But when Molly finds a historical artifact hidden inside the book, she begins having strange visions about Sam, his ship and the brutal sea battles of the Napoleonic Wars. These images resurrect lost memories of her late father, whose plane plunged into the Atlantic years earlier. Cooper tells Molly's story in present-tense, third-person narration, then switches to past-tense, first-person for Sam's chapters, a stylistic choice that makes the stories distinct but the shift between them jarring. While Molly's upheaval is emotionally rendered, Sam's tale bogs down in period detail about the workaday grind of seamanship. The resolution relies on an improbable coincidence to bring the two stories together, but provides a hopeful future for Molly. Ages 9-12.