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Ghost Canoeby Will Hobbs
Synopses & Reviews
Fog enclosed the island until it was hidden from view. Nathan and his father spent most of the day cleaning the lens, and they kept the foghorn going. Midafternoon, Nathan's mother called them in for an early supper.
Every so often there was a slight break in the fog and the misty shape of Cape Flattery appeared through the south-facing window. Every twenty Seven seconds came the three-second resounding blast of the foghorn. Nathan had never felt so weary in his life.
As his mother was gazing toward the mainland through one of the brief openings in the fog, her face suddenly registered the utmost astonishment. She pointed toward Cape Flattery- Nathan and his father were shocked by the sight of a three-masted square rigger under full sail emerging from the mist where a ship never, ever should have been- Like an apparition, the lumber schooner was sailing through the narrow gap between Tatoosh and the mainland.
"They've missed the Strait!" Nathan's mother cried. Nathan and his father went running outside, as fast as they could, toward the edge of the cliff.
They could see the men on the ship, even read the name, the L. S. Burnaby, on the side. The sailors were so close Nathan could make out the men's faces, shocked beyond amazement to discover their situation. Paralyzed by the sight of Tatoosh's looming cliffs, the crew stood unmoving on the deck like actors in a tragic drama, staring up at Nathan and his father. A dense bank of fog was engulfing the ship from behind. Only the helmsman was in motion as, realizing their situation, he spun the ship's wheel away from Tatoosh.
Nathan knew instantly what the result of the correction would be. The helmsman was now steering theBurnaby directly toward the barely submerged reef known as Jones Rock, invisible in the fog ahead
"Jones Rock!" Nathan exclaimed under his breath His father had realized the same thing and already was waving the helmsman to steer close under Tatoosh's cliffs, where the schooner would find deep water.
The helmsman saw and understood the waving of the lighthouse keeper's arms. He responded with a frantic reversal of the ship's wheel. Like a scattered flock of sheep, the crewmen were now scrambling this way and that. Moments later, the square-rigger disappeared in the fog, engulfed like a ghost ship.
"What will happen to it?" Nathan asked anxiously, his eyes fixed on the spot where the ship had disappeared.
His father's ruddy features, carved by the sea over decades as he'd stood at the helm of sailing ships, were so grave they reminded Nathan of a minister he'd once seen presiding at a funeral. "God help them," Zachary MacAllister whispered.
Nathan and his parents prayed that night for those sailors, not knowing what had become of them, fearing the worst.
During the night, Nathan and his father again took turns at the watch in the lighthouse. The fog dissolved during Nathan's watch, and the stars came out.
With daylight came no hint that a ship had passed between Tatoosh and the mainland. Filled with relief, Nathan hurried to tell his parents. "They cleared Jones Rock," he said, bursting into the kitchen. "They must have passed safely into the Strait. They're probably in Port Townsend by now."
"It's a miracle," Nathan's mother declared.
His father nodded, then added, The captain shouldn't have needed a miracle. He should have heard the foghorn."
The next afternoonNathan and his parents finally learned the sailors' fate from Lighthouse George, the Makah fisherman who delivered their mail once a week in his dugout canoe. The men hadn't been lucky, after all. Lighthouse George said that the ship had foundered in the fog, breaking up on the Chibahdehl Rocks, to the east of Tatoosh, just a few miles past Jones Rock.
The Makahs had found the bodies of fourteen drowned men. And one set of footprints on the shore.
After a sailing ship breaks up on the rocks off Washington's storm-tossed Cape Flattery, Nathan McAllister, the fourteen-year-old son of the lighthouse keeper, refuses to believe the authorities, who say there were no survivors. Unexplained footprints on a desolate beach, a theft at the trading post, and glimpses of a wild "hairy man" convince Nathan that someone is hiding in the remote sea caves along the coast. With his new friend, Lighthouse George, a fisherman from the famed Makah whaling tribe, Nathan paddles the fierce waters of the Pacific--fishing, hunting seals, searching for clues. Alone in the forest, Nathan discovers a ghostly canoe and a skeleton that may unlock the mystery of ancient treasure, betrayal . . .and murder.
2000-2001 Georgia's Picture Storybook Award & Georgia's Children's Book Award Masterlist
01-02 Land of Enchantment Book Award Masterlist (Gr. 6-9)
When a sailing ship breaks up on the rocks off Washington's storm-tossed Cape Flattery, it's clear that no one could have survived. But Nathan MacAllister, the 14-year-old son of the lighthouse keeper, is troubled by footprints found on the beach. The author of "Far North" delivers the engaging story of a dangerous mystery and the boy determined to solve it.
About the Author
Will Hobbs is the author of fourteen novels for upper elementary, middle school and young adult readers, as well as two picture book stories. Seven of his novels, Bearstone, Downriver, The Big Wander, Beardance, Far North, The Maze, and Jason's Gold were named Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Association. Far North was selected by the ALA as one of the "Top Ten" young adult books of 1996, and Ghost Canoe received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1998 for Best Young Adult Mystery.
Will's books have won many other awards, including the California Young Reader Medal, the Western Writers of America Spur Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Colorado Book Award, and nominations to state award lists in over thirty states. A graduate of Stanford University and former reading and language arts teacher, Will has been a full-time writer since 1990. He lives with his wife, Jean, in Durango, Colorado.
In His Own Words...
"Readers often ask me, "What made you want to write in the first place?" That's easy for me to answer: It was because I loved reading. If you like reading stories, you too might start thinking, I want to try that. I want to write a story!
"I grew up in an Air Force family. We lived in Pennsylvania, Panama, Virginia, Alaska, northern California, southern California, and Texas. I have three brothers and a sister. While we were living in Alaska, I fell in love with mountains, rivers, fishing, baseball, and books. Books I read on my own were always the best part of school for me. I was always going on adventures in my imagination.
"We moved from Alaska to California when I was halfway through fifth grade. I roamed the hills almost every day after school, and in the summers I went backpacking in the Sierras. After graduating from Stanford University, I moved to southwestern Colorado, where my wife, Jean, and I now make our home. We do lots of hiking in the nearby San Juan Mountains. You won't be surprised to learn that I was a reading teacher for many years before I became a full-time writer.
"About half of my ideas for stories come from life experiences, and the other half come from reading, as I learn more about whatever has sparked my interest. In the Grand Canyon one year, we met some rafters from Canada who told us about a remote river they loved called the Nahanni. I found a book on it, and we soon found ourselves heading way up into northern Canada, hiring a bush pilot, and flying in to the Nahanni. A thirteen-day trip on our raft led to months of fascinating reading about the land and people of the Northwest Territories. The result was Far North, set on the Nahanni.
"Learning to write well is like learning to play a musical instrument or a sport. It takes practice and dedication. My big breakthrough was learning to write with the five senses. In the world of the story, both writer and reader are imagining what it's like to be someone else, so you want to let the reader hear, see, taste, touch, and smell what your characters are experiencing.
"When I'm starting a new story, it takes a lot of faith. I'm like a woodcarver staring at a block of wood. It helps me to remember how, in the story of Pinocchio, that block of wood turned into a real boy. If you just keep working, you'll reach a point when the story starts coming to life. That's what a writer lives for! From that point on, you're hearing conversations in your head, you're seeing things happen, and you're just writing it all down."
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