word craft


Into the Storm

Into the Storm

Scholas­tic, 1996
Beyond the West­ern Sea: Book 2 of 2

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What’s this book about?

Mau­ra and Patrick have escaped the des­per­ate pover­ty and dan­ger of leav­ing home in Ire­land to face even greater per­il as they con­tin­ue their dar­ing voy­age to the New World with their friend Lau­rence Kirkle. Aboard ship, they are crowd­ed into the stench-filled pit of steer­age, where they come face to face with ill­ness and death, try­ing their best com­fort and pro­tect eight-year-old Bridy, who has lost both her par­ents. They find them­selves at the mer­cy of fel­low passengers—shady char­ac­ters like Mr. Shag­well, an Amer­i­can in dire need of cash, and the con­niv­ing Mr. Clem­spool, who sails first-class with young Mr. Grout, haunt­ed by his crim­i­nal past. Ahead lies their future in Amer­i­ca, fraught with dan­ger and more cri­sis than they ever anticipated.

Story Behind the Story

I had been vis­it­ing schools that year, impor­tant­ly, long before the lengthy Har­ry Pot­ter books were so pop­u­lar. I had begun ask­ing stu­dents what they were read­ing. A sur­pris­ing num­ber of them were telling me they were read­ing nov­els by Stephen King. The sur­prise— (to me and to their teachers)—was that these kids were read­ing tru­ly long books. More­over, they were read­ing them very much on their own. The les­son? If they liked the sto­ries, kids would read long books.

Hav­ing already pub­lished books that had become popular—for instance, The True Con­fes­sions of Char­lotte Doyle—I had become used to the ques­tion, “Are you going to do a sequel?” Oth­er books of mine had elicit­ed that same question.

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Awards and Recognition

  • Best books for Young Adults, ALA, 1997
  • Notable, Nation­al Coun­cil of Social Studies/Children’s Book Coun­cil, 1997
  • Starred Review, Book­list, 1996
  • Best Books of the Year, Book­links, 1996
  • Best Books of the Year, Book List, 1996
  • New York Pub­lic Library, Best Books of the Year, 1996
  • Blue Rib­bon, Bul­letin of the Cen­ter for Chil­dren’s Books, 1997
  • Chil­dren’s choice nom­i­nee, Vermont


“[A] … puls­ing 1850s emi­grant adven­ture… . packed with action and with a huge cast of vil­lains and heroes… . Great for read­ing aloud, the vivid scenes and larg­er-than-life char­ac­ters also lend them­selves to read­ers’ the­ater. The com­e­dy is both grotesque and sin­is­ter. As in Dick­ens’ works, coin­ci­dence is not just a plot sur­prise but a rev­e­la­tion that those who appear to be far apart—the pow­er­ful and the ‘failures’—are, in fact, inti­mate­ly con­nect­ed.” (Book­list, starred review)

buy the book 
Don’t miss the first book!
if you liked this book, try: