- Age Range: 9 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 31, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0545297168
- ISBN-13: 978-0545297165
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Polaris Hardcover – October 31, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—It's 1830, just off the coast of an Amazon rain forest, and a portion of the crew of the ship Polaris is on a scientific expedition on shore. When they return to the ship, mayhem ensues as the captain tries to load the botanist's discoveries on board. The six youngest members of the crew, merely children, are locked in the captain's quarters during the mutiny. The escaping crew members try to blow up the Polaris, but the six youngsters attempt to save the ship and themselves. Little do they know that in the lower decks lurks a monster that will grow, reproduce, and try to overcome them. This historical fiction/science fiction mash-up is filled with adventure, mystery, and horror. Readers will be engrossed in the story as they wait to find out if this skeletal crew without experience or muscle can make it back to civilization without being consumed by the monster below. There are wonderful descriptions of life aboard a 19th-century sailing vessel, and each of the six children are given well-drawn personalities. VERDICT Middle grade readers looking for an adventure on the high seas without leaving the comfort of their homes will love this swashbuckling, spine-tingling tale.—Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Avondale, LA
"This story is scary fun. Loved it!" -- R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps
"The salty sailing details and the drama of keeping afloat in the face of damaging storms and winds is just as heart-pounding as the struggle for survival against the threat already onboard. An exciting blend of nautical adventure and monstrous horror." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Middle grade readers looking for an adventure on the high seas without leaving the comfort of their homes will love this swashbuckling, spine-tingling tale." -- School Library Journal
"A chilling tale of horror on the high seas... Sure to linger after the lights have been turned out." -- Publishers Weekly
Praise for Surrounded by Sharks:
"This story strikes a balance of suspense and action... For reluctant readers and fans
of survival stories." -- School Library Journal
Praise for TombQuest:
"A thrilling adventure rich in Egyptian mythology and magic... Sure to be a blockbuster." -- Booklist
Praise for Trapped:
"Northrop gets at the core of human nature through masterful pacing... Gripping." -- Kirkus Reviews
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My son has moved on to reading Darwin's "On the Origin of Species," one of the key pre-texts to Northrop's historical science fiction adventure. But Northrop's book is the kind he would have loved only a few years ago: it's got a driving plot, sympathetic characters, and a really cool monster. The historical details, particularly those having to do with life aboard a 19th-century sailing vessel, convey a strong feeling of authenticity, while the science is just plausible enough to sustain the flights of imagination. I think my son would have especially liked the character of Henry, the studious lad who puts his scientific knowledge to use in combating the creature among them. But he would also have identified with strong-willed Owen, nephew to the slain captain and thus a child who feels obligated to take on an adult's job. Overall, the cast of characters is varied enough to strike the fancy of diverse young readers, boys and girls alike. And the monster....
Well, I'm a monster guy. And this one is particularly grisly. So even as an adult reader, I found myself flipping pages as eagerly as the target group for this lively and scary middle grade novel.
After returning back to the ship, deck hand Obed Macy is sent to lock the specimen away deep within the ship. Knowing that something spooky is happening with the specimen, the crew wants it as far away from them as possible. While Obed is securing it far away below deck, the rest of the kids are locked in the captain’s quarters so they don’t see what happens next.
A mutiny takes place. The kids hear the yelling and fighting, and then sounds of the crew abandoning ship. Once the kids free themselves, they find that all the adults have fled the ship and have sailed away using a life boat. With no other boats for the kids to use, they must take control of Polaris and return it back to America.
As they start to sail, Obed still hasn’t shown up and there’s a weird, sweet fungus smell coming from below the deck. The group explores the dark, dank recesses of the ship looking for Obed. They learn quickly that there is something hideous on the ship with them.
The struggle to sail the boat with a skeleton crew of children is made harder because of the monster below deck that’s growing stronger every day. The kids will have to sail safely back to America while also trying to destroy the monster. They will have to come up with a plan sooner or later to destroy the monster before it destroys them.
Northrop has an amazing knack for pacing and suspense, and Polaris has both. Polaris is the perfect mix of fun, adventure, and horror that will keep readers hooked and spooked all throughout the book. Northrop clearly put a lot of time into researching the nuts and bolts of sailing a large ship like the Polaris, and it adds to the pacing and plot development. I would recommend this book for fans of horror books, including fans of Dan Poblocki and R. L. Stine. (Stine’s recommendation of this book is even on the cover!)
This is an interesting blend of science fiction and historical fiction, with the science being natural science rather than technology. The characters have quite an adventure, and as they progress on this harrowing journey, they learn how and how not to work together. And it is quite an adventure, with danger at every turn. My gag reflex kicked in when the author described the creature living in the hold, but kids will love it. The book seemed to drag on a bit with no real progress toward the resolution near the end, but it finally came around and was good.