Chasing the Nightbird
Author: Krista Russell
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Release Date: September 1, 2011
Fourteen-year-old Lucky Valera is a seasoned sailor about to join the crew of the whaling ship, Nightbird. But when his estranged older brother suddenly kidnaps him and forces him into servitude as a mule spinner at the mill, his life takes a dramatic turn for the worse.
Determined to escape, Lucky links up with some unlikely allies: Daniel, a fugitive slave who works alongside him at the mill, and Emmeline, a Quaker ship captain s daughter. Emmeline offers Lucky passage on her father s ship in exchange for his help leading escaped slaves through the Underground Railroad, but Lucky knows getting out from under his brother won’t be easy. When their plans go awry and Daniel is threatened by ruthless slave catchers, Lucky discovers that true freedom requires self-sacrifice, and he comes eventually to realize he is part of a larger movement from which he cannot run away.
I saw many covers of this book. One of the three children running away from the ship, and the other, the kids are running toward the ship. I put the first one down because Lucky was chasing more things than just the ship.
I love stories that are set back during this time because this is how our country became to be. I get to see what the struggles were during that time, picturing myself into the storyline. Krista Russell got the historical part of the story right and did the right research.
The story is set in New Bradford, 1851.
Lucky Valera is a fourteen-year-old boy that is about to set sail on ship known as The Nightbird. This was his father’s ship, and the ship he has grown apart of since he was young. Before he even makes it to the whaling ship, Lucky is kidnapped on the street by a guy named Fortuna and his friend. Lucky finds out that this is his older brother but not a very kind one. It turns out since Lucky’s father has died, Fortuna is now his legal guardian.
Fortuna claims their father owes him a lot of money, that now Lucky has to pay since his father has passed away. Fortuna has Lucky work alongside him at the local mill, to pay back the wages. Lucky is determined to get away from his brother, and get back to ship, but he finds out Fortuna has a stronger hold him than he thought.
With the help of two new friends, Daniel an escaped slave and wanted, and Emmeline, who wants to help slaves, Lucky might be able to escape. But during the story, Lucky becomes a slave himself when Fortuna puts him to work and takes his wages. Although his life is bad, Lucky sees that he isn’t the only one searching freedom, and others have worse lives than him. He has to make a lot of big decisions through the course of the book.
The book brought a lot of historical facts and lessons throughout the story. I got drawn in right away when Daniel and Emmeline come into the story, and the tales of the other slaves. It was likable, and a very enjoyable read. I would suggest this book to many middle graders. Young adults might appreciate this book as well.