Secrets at Sea
Helena is the oldest mouse in the family. Ever since her parents died, she has taken responsibility for her younger sisters, Louise and Beatrice, and little brother Lamont. The mice manage to do okay, living in the walls of the Cranston family’s house. The Cranstons never catch sight of the rodents, with the exception of their daughter, Camilla. Camilla and Louise are actually friends, and they stay up all hours of the night talking. Helena doesn’t quite approve of the friendship; the life of a mouse is dangerous indeed, and interacting with humans is almost as risky as interacting with cats. Helena takes her leadership role very seriously, though unfortunately her siblings don’t listen to her very well. Then, in 1897, comes the biggest decision Helena has ever had to make.
The Cranston family has decided to take a trip. The parents are having trouble finding a husband for their eldest daughter in America, so they’ve booked passage on a ship to sail across the ocean to look for one in Europe. Do the mice dare go with them? After great debate, Helena and her siblings decide to go for it. They hide away in Camilla’s suitcase and soon find themselves on a boat setting sail for Europe.
The mice family’s small world immediately opens up far grander than any had imagined. They find that over a hundred other mice are traveling with their humans and dine together each evening in luxurious style. Lamont quickly joins up with the other boys in the mouse scouts (which is similar to the boy scouts), and finds he loves life at sea. Louise continues her friendship with Camilla, while Beatrice starts falling in love with Nigel, the mouse cabin steward. Helena meets new mice as well, including the royal Duchess of Cheddar Gorge, who is the mouse of the human Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria. These new acquaintances begin to nudge the close-knit mouse family in completely different directions. The trip to Europe starts out as a way to stick close to each other and to their humans, but it turns out to be the biggest adventure of their small and furry lives.
Award-winning author Richard Peck’s characters surge with personality (or should it be mouse-ality?), and he lands them in quite a few challenging situations filled with danger and excitement. He has a quirky sense of humor that amuses throughout, and cleverly supplies the mice with human props, like using thimbles for soup bowls and matchsticks as canes. There’s even some sweet rodent romance and a bit of history as well. Kelly Murphy does an awesome job with the illustrations, providing a visual bonus bursting with life and humor.
Overall, SECRETS AT SEA is a charming and enticing tale set in the late 1800s that will entertain and amuse young readers.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on October 13, 2011
Secrets at Sea
- Publication Date: October 11, 2012
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Puffin
- ISBN-10: 0142421839
- ISBN-13: 9780142421833