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Children's Literature Reviews
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The true confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Avi ; decorations by Ruth E. Murray.
New York, NY : Avon Books/Hearst, c1990.
232 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.


"An Avon Flare book."
As the lone "young lady" on a transatlantic voyage in 1832, Charlotte learns that the captain is murderous and the crew rebellious.

Best Books:

Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Cliffhangers, 2003 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 1990 ; American Library Association; United States
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1990 ; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1990 ; NCTE Children's Literature Assembly; United States
Notable Children's Books, 1991 ; Association for Library Service to Children; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1991 ; American Library Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award, 1991 Winner Young Adult Fiction United States
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children's Literature, 1991 Winner Fiction United States
Evergreen Young Adult Book Award, 1993 Winner Washington
Golden Kite Award, 1991 Award Book Fiction United States
Jefferson Cup Award, 1991 Honor Book Virginia
John Newbery Medal, 1991 Honor Book United States
Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children's Literature, 1991 Winner California United States
Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 1996 Winner Massachusetts
Sunshine State Young Reader's Award, 1994 Winner Grades 6-8 Florida
Utah Children's, Informational, and Young Adults' Book Awards, 1994 Winner Young Adult's Book Award Utah

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 1993 ; Nominee; Colorado
Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 1996 ; Nominee; Colorado
Flicker Tale Children's Book Award, 1993 ; Nominee; Juvenile Fiction; North Dakota
Golden Sower Award, 1993 ; Nominee; Young Adult; Nebraska
Great Stone Face Award, 1991-1992 ; Nominee; New Hampshire
Great Stone Face Award, 1992-1993 ; Nominee; New Hampshire
Mark Twain Award, 1992-1993 ; Nominee; Missouri
Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award, 1994-1995 ; Nominee; Minnesota
MRA Reader's Choice Award, 1996 ; Nominee; Grades 6-12; Michigan
Prairie Pasque Award, 1993 ; Nominee; South Dakota
Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award, 1993 ; Nominee; Illinois
Utah Children's Book Awards, 1994 ; Nominee; Young Adult; Utah
Virginia State Young Readers' Award, 1993 ; Nominee; Middle School Level, Grades 6-9; Virginia
Voice of Youth Award, 2002-2003 ; Nominee; 5th and 6th Grade; Illinois
William Allen White Children's Book Award, 1992-1993 ; Master List; Kansas

Curriculum Tools:

Link to Discussion Guide at Multnomah County Library

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 5.3
Accelerated Reader Points 8
Accelerated Vocabulary, Literacy Skills

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 740

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 7
Title Point Value 13
Lexile Measure 740


Barbara A. Zynda (KLIATT Review, June 1992 (Vol. 26, No. 5))
What is left to say about a book that has been the recipient of a string of awards? Charlotte's terrifying adventure aboard the Seahawk in 1832 is a thrilling story. However, even more compelling is what she comes to learn on this voyage that leads her to reject stifling feminine roles and return to an "unnatural" life at sea. Young readers need to hear this young woman's voice from long ago who acted according to her conscience rather than according to the patriarchal rules society inflicted on women. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.) KLIATT Codes: J*--Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 1990, Avon/Flare, 232p. 18cm. 90-30624, $3.99. Ages 12 to 15.

Jan Lieberman (Children's Literature)
Charlotte's journal of her transatlantic voyage, June 1832, as the only passenger on the brig Seahawk, is breathtaking reading. Always the obedient daughter, Charlotte sees no reason to change when she sails with Captain Jaggery and his 12-man crew. Loyal to him, she is the cause of the death of 2 of the seamen and becomes an enemy of the crew. When she discovers Jaggery's evil nature, she realizes she is in danger. The only way to gain the crew's trust is to become one of them. Her fearlessness is awesome and in this process of change, she becomes a spirited and independent young woman. 1993 (orig. 1990), Orchard/Avon/Thorndike Press, $16.95, $17.99, $4.50 and $15.95 . Ages 10 to 13.

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1990)
Sailing as the only passenger (and only female) from England to Rhode Island is the extraordinary position in which Charlotte Doyle finds herself in June of 1832. The voyage's inevitable disasters are foreshadowed from the moment she boards the ship. Charlotte's class identification with Captain Jaggery blinds her to his manipulation of her naive loyalty, and to his cruelty to the crew. Her eventual alliance with the mutinous crew is possible only after calamitous events which expose her to previously unthought of realities about herself and others. Written in the romantic style of a 19th century adventure story, this thrilling tale relentlessly commands attention from the beginning to an entirely satisfying and unexpected conclusion. Honor Book, 1990 CCBC Newbery Book Discussion. CCBC categories: Fiction For Teenagers. 1990, Orchard Books, 215 pages, $14.95. Ages 12 and older.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1990)
Returning from Britain in 1832 to her family in Rhode Island, 13-year-old Charlotte tangles with a tyrannical sea captain and his mutinous crew. In the book's first half, Charlotte paints a painfully chilling self-portrait of a girl brainwashed by her father into acceptance of male, and class, authority. But after persistently acting as Captain Jaggery's spy--long after the reader knows he's a villain--and even betraying the well-justified mutiny that's brewing, Charlotte makes a heroic turnaround in response to Jaggery's brutal lashing of Zachariah, the ship's cook as well as the wisest person (and only black man) aboard. She wins the crew's forgiveness by climbing to the royal yard (as they've dared her to do) and becomes one of them--only to find that, after such a taste of independence, home is not the safe harbor she imagined. Plucky Charlotte, whose hard-won competence as a sailor is paralleled by her moral growth, survives enough surprising reversals and suspense to rival the adventures of Jim Hawkins. Tautly plotted, vividly narrated, carefully researched: a thrilling tale deepened by its sober look at attitudes that may have been more exaggerated in the past but that still persist. 1990, Orchard/Watts, $14.95; PLB $14.99. Starred Review. © 1990 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Told in the form of a recollection, these ``confessions'' cover 13-year-old Charlotte's eventful 1832 transatlantic crossing. She begins her trip a prim schoolgirl returning home to her American family from England. From the start, there is something wrong with the Seahawk : the families that were to serve as Charlotte's chaperones do not arrive, and the unsavory crew warns her not to make the trip. When the crew rebels, Charlotte first sides with the civilized Captain Jaggerty, but before long she realizes that he is a sadist and--the only female aboard--she joins the crew as a seaman. Charlotte is charged with murder and sentenced to be hanged before the trip is over, but ends up in command of the Seahawk by the time it reaches its destination. Charlotte's repressive Puritanical family refuses to believe her tale, and the girl returns to the sea. Charlotte's story is a gem of nautical adventure, and Avi's control of tone calls to mind William Golding's 1980s trilogy of historical novels of the sea. Never wavering from its 19th century setting, the novel offers suspense and entertainment modern-day readers will enjoy. Ages 11-13. (Oct.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
In this crackling good yarn--a Newbery Honor book--a 13-year-old girl must extricate herself from a perilous position during an 1832 transatlantic voyage. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Cathryn M. Mercier (The Five Owls, January/February 1991 (Vol. 5, No. 3))
Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty." This direct opening line powerfully launches a novel of extraordinary achievement and resonance. In 1832, Miss Doyle aspires to be a proper young lady: coiffed, pristinely dressed, and exquisitely well-mannered. She strives for perfection and parental approval. In mid-June, Charlotte embarks on the Seahawk to journey from her school in Liverpool, England, to her family, newly relocated in Providence, Rhode Island. Despite the abandonment of all other passengers and explicit warnings not to board ship, Charlotte obediently follows her father's arrangements and embarks upon this troubled, dangerous voyage. An adolescent of resolute will and civilized expectations, she contacts Captain Jaggery, hoping to ease her arduous trip. The captain reminds her of dear Papa: she ignores the crew's hostility toward him and insists upon casting him as her hero. Avi tells this story in the first person, unfolding Charlotte's forceful characterization in honest journal entries. He subtly reveals Charlotte's metamorphosis on numerous levels. The journal catalogs her growing suspicions and questions. She exchanges her polished boots and high-buttoned collars for common sailor's garb. She assumes first the duties, then the attitudes of a crew member and holds onto the dagger given to her by the ship's cook. Charlotte faces grim realizations and mortal moral decisions, but her voice never wavers. Control and refinement mark her language and similarly distinguish Avi's stylistic expertise. As she slowly reacts to the crew's volatile temperament and witnesses Jaggery's cruelties, Charlotte reaches a jolting epiphany: she most choose between her romantic ideals and humane mutiny. The tempestuous sea echoes the turbulence on the ship and within Charlotte's heart and mind. Her struggle will fully engage readers, who will find themselves cheering the improbable but deeply satisfying conclusion. Avi blends an innovative mixture of history and fiction, as seen previously in The Fighting Ground and The Man Who Was Poe, with the chilling realism of Wolf Rider to create this accomplished novel. Expertly crafted and consistently involving, it is sure to excite, enthrall, and challenge readers. Applause extends to Ruth E. Murray's bold book jacket, evocative gray-and-white chapter decorations, and detailed appendix illustrations. 1990, Orchard, $14.95. Ages 11 to 13.


Sea stories.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng)
- 0380714752 (pbk.)
0380714752 (pbk.)
0380714752 (rack)
0380728850 (HarperTrophy trade pbk.)
9780380714759 (rack)
9780380728855 (HarperTrophy trade pbk.)
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