Richard Peck’s Secrets at Sea was reviewed in The New York Times Book Review this weekend, so I thought I’d add my two cents.
I wish I could recreate for you Richard Peck’s autograph on my copy of A Long Way From Chicago. The flourishes, the curlicues, the expansiveness of it are indications of how he talks and how he writes. There’s an imagination, an imagery, a use of words that few authors achieve in a lifetime and he does it time and again. Maybe his mantra of “If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader” really holds true. Whatever it is, he certainly has the talent. And Secrets at Sea will enchant you.
The ‘upstairs Cranstons’ need to find a husband for older daughter, Olive. They’ve exhausted all the possibilities in the New York vicinity and have decided to try their luck abroad. They are off on a trans-Atlantic voyage to see what England has to offer.
The ‘downstairs Cranstons’, the mice residing in the lower levels, are frantic. What is to become of them if the Upstairs Cranstons desert them for foreign lands? Helena, the older sister to Louise, Beatrice and Lamont, decides to seek counsel from old, wise Aunt Fannie Fenimore, who lives in the mansion next door. Aunt Fannie looks into her crystal ball and describes Helena’s two futures: the one that chooses her and the one that she chooses. The one that chooses Helena does not look promising, but the one that she can choose is even more frightening because in that crystal ball is the image of a huge ocean liner…and you should know that mice and water are not friends.
And this is how Helena finds herself on an ocean liner bound for England and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – “60 years upon the greatest throne in human history”. You will meet a marvelous cast of characters, both human and rodent. And, most importantly, you will learn why, without the aid of our mice, we humans would be in one great big mess.
Secrets at Sea is a wonderful voyage for your imagination.
At the suggestion of the same New York Times Book Review issue and several other library journals, I have Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver on my night table. Oliver, author of Before I Fall (which I really liked) and Delerium (which I haven’t read because dystopia just isn’t my thing, but which got great reviews), has ventured into the world of middle grade fiction and Liesl & Po is getting raves.