Article, Booktalks

Peter Raven Under Fire Booktalk

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Scholastic Booktalk

Napoleon Bonaparte wanted to rule not only all of Europe, but in 1800, he tried to capture the United States as well!

Midshipman Peter Raven arrived on the British man o’ war HMS Torren, with a sealed packet of orders for her captain and courage enough to accuse the young commander who’d arrived with him of being an imposter. But Beaumont wasn’t the imposter he appeared to be – he was a British secret agent spying on the French. And since Peter spoke fluent French and had the intelligence to notice Beaumont and the courage to accuse him, Beaumont shared some of his plans with him and asked Peter to work with him.

But the life of a midshipman is far from spies and secret agents, no matter how intelligent and courageous he is. There are many new skills for Peter to master, first as one of the junior midshipmen and then as part of the captain’s staff. He also meets for an hour daily with the captain, learning a secret code give to him by Beaumont. Months after joining the ship’s crew, Peter is given his first chance to translate the code when they see strange lights flashing on the coast of France, where they are helping enforce the blockade preventing ships from either landing or leaving. One of Beaumont’s men comes aboard, gravely wounded, with a book that must reach the British Admiralty office immediately, regardless of the cost, and a message from Beaumont, requesting a rendezvous at the mouth of the river Seine, at midnight in three days. Peter’s days as a secret agent and spy seem to have begun.

[You may stop here for a shorter booktalk.]

But when they arrive at the rendezvous point, a storm with high winds prevents the ship from getting close enough to shore to pick up Beaumont. The captain decides to send in the smaller ship’s cutter and selects Peter to command the boat manned with a crew of his choice.

Suddenly Peter faces his greatest test in all his months of training. It’s a dark, overcast night, their small boat is sailing toward an unfamiliar coastline in enemy territory, and Peter has to use his wits, not the stars, to navigate by. He’s doing something he’s never done before, and he is responsible for the safety of both the boat and her seven man crew.

As they near the shore, Beaumont signals his position, and Peter prays for their luck to last. But almost instantly, gunfire breaks out. Beaumont is under attack, and Peter and his men still have to rescue him.

This Booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart

 

  • Subjects:
    Changes and New Experiences, Discovery and Learning, Boats and Underwater Craft, Courage, Bravery, Heroism, Determination and Perseverance, Honor, Leadership
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