________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 7 . . . . November 23, 2007


Peril at Pier Nine. (Disaster Strikes; 3).

Penny Draper.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2007.
193 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-55050-376-0.

Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.

Review by Georgie Perigny.

**** /4


Jack walked Captain Clapp out to the bridge that connected Snake Island to the rest of the Toronto Islands. Jack, as usual, had more questions.

“Have you ever rescued anybody, Captain?” asked Jack.

“I was a laker captain for forty years, Jack, what do you think?” replied the Captain. “There’re two things you got to worry about at sea: storms and fire. Both hit right out of the blue; you never know they’re coming. And when they hit, the captain is responsible for what happens. You can’t run, and you can’t panic. The lives of your crew and your passengers depend on you. I know all you boys are good sailors. You’re comfortable in the water, and that’s good. But don’t ever disrespect the lake. It’s bigger and stronger than you’ll ever be.”

The pair walked companionably together. “You sure love those stories, Jack. I’ve never seen another like you,” said the Captain.

“My mom says I was born for the sea,” replied Jack. “I’m going to be a laker captain just like you. I know I can do it. I’m a good sailor; I know the wind and the waves. And the other kids listen to me. They’re going to be my crew.”

“You’re right, Jack, the other kids listen to you,” Captain Clapp replied seriously. “And that’s a problem. A captain can’t act without thinking, and you do. You’re more likely to lead your friends into danger than out of it. You’ve got guts, but you have some growing up to do. Don’t be talking to me about being a captain until you do.”

The captain strode away into the night. Jack felt a flush of anger. The captain was old; he didn’t know  what he was talking about. Jack would never lead his crew into trouble.

How could he? Nothing even remotely dangerous ever happened on the island.


Fourteen-year-old Jack Gordon is the best sailor in all the Toronto Islands. However, his reckless behaviors and no fear attitude always seem to land him in trouble. Will he ever be able to prove to others that he is capable of being a great captain and leader? Penny Draper’s Peril at Pier Nine is a compelling book of heroism, bravery, heartaches and friendship.

     After leading a water fight that destroyed the Lawn Bowling Club, Jack had to face his punishment. The Lawn Bowling Committee decided that for the rest of the summer Jack would be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the greens. That he could handle. What he couldn’t come to grips with was having his sailboat, Frosty Friday, beached until further notice. Losing Frosty Friday was pretty harsh when the water fight was just an accident. How could he prepare for big race that was to be held in a few weeks?  To make matters worse, the Captain hadn’t spoken to him since the day in the clubhouse.  The Captain was right; Jack had no “captain” qualities. He was simply a trouble maker, a bad influence. His irresponsible behaviour not only disappointed Captain Clapp, but it may have destroyed Jack’s dream to pilot one of the Great Lakes cruise ships.

     However, Jack is put to the test late one night when he realizes that the greatest laker, The Noronic, is on fire. Suddenly, nothing is more important than saving the people who are trapped on the boat. But does Jack have what it takes to do it? Will he be able to rescue everyone? He knows he can’t let anyone down. With true heroism, Jack plunges into the icy waters risking his life to save the people from the fiery danger.

     Peril at Pier Nine is a “Disaster Strikes” book in which the disasters are told from a kid’s point of view. Peril at Pier Nine is written in first person and is told by Jack Gordon, the spunky 14-year-old. The language is appropriate to the intended audience, and the book is a quick, entertaining read. The book is organized into several short chapters with suitable titles that allow the reader to keep the characters and events in perspective. The novel is historical fiction that entangles facts and imagination into an adventurous novel that captivates readers and has them treading waters as they are mesmerized by the turn of events.

     Peril at Pier Nine is Draper’s second novel for young adults. Her first, Terror at Turtle Mountain, was short-listed for the Silver Birch Award and the Diamond Willow Award.

Highly Recommended.

Georgie Perigny is a middle years teacher at River Valley School in Sundre, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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