Canadian Children's Book News Review - Peril at Pier Nine

Reviewed by: Iran goodall

A band of friends sails in and out of trouble around the Toronto Islands where their families have cottages. Their rambunctious chief, 14-year-old Jack Gordon, comes to realize that his reputation as a pesky troublemaker might threaten his plansto one day captain a laker. But on the September 1949 night the Noronic catches fire in the Toronto Harbour, Jack's bravery becomes his most shining characteristic.

Penny Draper chose the Noronic fire, in which more than 100 people died, as the basis for her third disaster-themed YA novel. In contrast to the tragedy, Draper conveys a bright depiction of island life throughout most of the story. Her writing avoids syrupy nostalgia, embraces a youth-centred point of view and engages the senses. Readers can almost smell homemade dinners cooking and hear popular ukulele music. As they turn the pages they feel the thrill of racing boats, the fun of water fights, the shiver from ghost stories, and the confusion of first love. In addition, the introduction of new characters and situations moves the story at a pleasing clip. This book is a worthy vessel for literary sailors seeking adventure.

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