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The Must-Have-Aboard Book List for Teens:
These are not all about sailing and the sea...but they'll keep teens occupied onboard.

Granuaile: Queen of Storms
Dave Hendrick and Luca Pizzari

The first graphic novel presenting the story of Granuaile, the Pirate Queen of the West of Ireland, deserves attention. Sixteenth century Ireland was a turbulent time, with clans living and competing under Brehon Law, invasion from the East by the British, and plunder along the west coast by the Spanish.


Granuaile (known in English as Grace O’Malley), the daughter of a Connacht seafaring chieftain, grew up wanting to sail with her father aboard his mighty ships.  He forbade her to board, citing (according to legend) her long fiery hair which would get caught in the ropes. She defied her father by cutting off her hair and dressing like a boy to stow away on one of his voyages.

Sinbad of the Coast Guard by George F. Foley Jr, and
illustrated by George Gray

Flat Hammock Press has re-released this 1945 chronicle to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of WW II. This book tells the true story of Sinbad, "the ultimate sea dog", who was snuck aboard a Coast Guard vessel and went on to become a crew member with his own responsibilities, uniform and bunk. His adventures include being invited to visit a sultan's palace in Africa and almost creating an international incident in Greenland.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Tom Sawyer is one of the most endearing characters in American fiction, dealing with all the challenges that any young person faces and resolving them in creative ways. Tom would rather be having fun than going to school and church. This is always getting him into trouble, from which he finds unusual solutions. One of the great scenes in this book has Tom persuading his friends to help him whitewash a fence by making them think that nothing could be finer than doing his punishment for playing hooky. Quite the study in the power of persuasion.

Tom also is given up for dead and has the unusual experience of watching his own funeral and hearing what people really thought of him. Tom and Huck Finn also witness a murder, and have to decide how to handle the fact that they were not supposed to be there as well as the potential of retribution by the murderer, Injun Joe. Girls are a part of Tom's life, and Becky Thatcher and he have a remarkable adventure in a cave. A classic that has not lost its appeal with time.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe
Defoe's classic novel of shipwreck and survival is now nearly 300 years old. The flavor of the 18th century language and pace may be less appealing to 21st century ears.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

We recommend the relatively inexpensive 'Bantam Classic' edition. With a foreword by Ray Bradbury, the Anthony Bonner translation is a graceful compromise between the 1870 French and modern American English, catching the flavor of the period without burying the reader in pseudo-Victorian turns of phrase.

Captain Nemo is one of the most interesting, delightfully mysterious characters in all of literature. As for the story, a naturalist, his assistant, and a harpooner join a party in search of a giant sea creature which has attacked a couple of ships. They are knocked overboard and find themselves saved by the monster, which turns out to be a submarine manned by a mysterious crew of sailors. Captain Nemo requires them to stay on board the Nautilus permanently because he wants to keep the existence of his submarine a secret from the world. The three men sail on the Nautilus for ten months, exploring the world's oceans and seas. They marvel at the animal life under the waves; explore underground forests, oyster beds, deep trenches; gaze with somber eyes at great numbers of sunken vessels; fight off giant squids and dangerous sharks; cast their eyes upon the sunken continent of Atlantis; and burrow underneath the polar ice caps to emerge at the South Pole. Until of course Nemo becomes unstable...

Swiss Family Robinson by Johan Wyss

From the opening, thrilling tempest scene to the rescue, this book has plenty of action as well as creative solutions to problems. There is a lot of material for discussion, how the family solved problems, how they handled disagreements, adversity, disappointment, building of character.There is always an exciting new beast to be discovered, a new plant to use for food or clothing, a new machine or tool to be built, a new part of the island to explore. This is a wonderful book to read out loud to kids until they are old enough to enjoy reading it themselves. This book definitely teaches values along with the adventure and the values are linked in such a way as to be an integral part of the story.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island is a classic adventure tale. It is considered a children's book, but I fear the language is so old-fashioned children won't take to it. Young Jim Hawkins works at the Admiral Benbow Inn when a mysterious sea-captain arrives and tells him to beware of a man with one leg. Hawkins finds his treasure map and he and his compatriots acquire a ship to go after it. And who do they hire for a cook? A one-legged man named Long John Silver, and they let Silver pick the crew! As soon as they arrive on Treasure Island, the good-guys find that they are sailing with a bunch of pirates who mutiny against them.

Oyster Moon by Margaret Meacham
illustrated by Marcy Dunn Ramsey

When fourteen-year-old Anna Shipherd receives mysterious messages, she knows they are from her twin brother, Toby, who left two weeks earlier aboard an oyster dredge boat. The messages are only the beginning. A strange letter written in a foreign language arrives for her in the mail, and soon Anna realizes that someone is following her.

An exciting blend of mystery and history, Oyster Moon is set on Maryland 's Eastern Shore in the late 1800s, at the peak of the tumultuous Oyster Wars.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
One of the very few sets of books that should be read three times: in childhood, early adulthood, and late in life. In brief, four children travel repeatedly to a world in which they are far more than mere children and everything is far more than it seems. Richly told, populated with fascinating characters, perfectly realized in detail of world and pacing of plot, and profoundly allegorical, the story is infused throughout with the timeless issues of good and evil, faith and hope. The boxed set edition includes all seven volumes. It is about to be made into a movie so get the books now.
Across the Nightingale Floor Episode 1 (Tales of the Otori ) by Lian Hearn
Paperback, 2005

Seventeen-year-old Tomasu lives in a remote mountain village, some of whose residents—including his mother—are members of the Hidden, a clandestine, peaceful religious sect. He has never met his father. One day, while Tomasu is out collecting mushrooms, a band of Tohan warriors descends upon and massacres the village. Tomasu confronts the warriors, but is rescued by the mysterious Lord Otori, who changes the boy’s name to Takeo, and wants to adopt him. As Takeo learns to read, and to fight with sword and pole, on and off horseback, he does not realize that he is the center of a bloody intrigue . . . until it is almost too late.
The first of a series, with a great review in the NYTimes, is being compared to CS Lewis and Tolkien.

J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is one of all the time best sets of books to read in teen years. The trilogy which actually begins with the fourth book, The Hobbit, will keep teens entrigued all summer long, regardless of whether they've seen the movies. Such rich language and vivid visual imagery. They'll be spellbound!

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