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Peril at Pier Nine

by Penny Draper

Peril at Pier Nine

Jack Gordon and Henry Addison meet when the Great Lakes cruise ship, the Noronic, docks at Ward Island, just before the ship catches fire - with Henry on board.

Two young teens, Jack Gordon and Henry Addison, meet when the Great Lakes cruise ship, the Noronic, docks at Ward Island, part of the "Toronto islands," in Lake Ontario in the summer of 1949, just before the ship catches fire – with Henry on board.
Fourteen-year-old Jack is a daring, impulsive boy, who lives to sail, have adventures and get into trouble. When the Noronic docks at Ward Island, he and his friends gather to admire it. But you need an invitation from one of the passengers to board the ship. So when Jack meets Henry, a lonely 13-year-old passenger from Boston, he talks Henry into inviting Jack's group on a tour of the ship. In the course of the tour, Jack and Henry become friends.

But that night, when Jack wakes up and looks out at Pier Nine and the Noronic, he sees, to his horror, that the ship is on fire and sinking. He races down to the harbour and takes out the island's only motorboat, hoping to help passengers. People are stuck on the upper deck because the only way off the ship, three decks below, is already engulfed in flames. Jack spots Henry and calls to him just as Henry's dad helps him jump into the water. Jack is able to rescue Henry and many others, although Henry's dad is lost. Jack is a hero to many, but not everyone agrees.

Peril at Pier Nine is based on a true story. On September 14, 1949, the cruise ship Noronic, caught fire with 524 passengers and 171 crew members on board. Between 118 and 139 people died. The cause of the fire was never determined.


5.25" x 7.5" 188 pages
8.95 CDN; 7.95 USD
E-Book Price
History Tradepaper 9+
Penny Draper
Author Photo

About the Author

Penny is an author, a bookseller, and a storyteller who lives in Victoria, BC. Originally from Toronto, she received a degree in Literature from Trinity College, University of Toronto and on the side, attended the Storytellers' School of Toronto. For many years, Penny shared tales as a professional storyteller at schools, libraries, conferences, festivals, and on radio and television. She has told stories in an Arabian harem and from inside a bear's belly - but that is a story in itself.

Penny Draper' first juvenile fiction novel, Terror at Turtle Mountain, was a finalist for the Silver Birch Young Reader' Choice Award in Ontario, as well as the Diamond Willow Award, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and Book of the Year for the ForeWord Magazine Awards in the USA. It is part of Coteau Books for Kids Disaster Strikes! Series. The series also includes Penny' second book, Peril at Pier Nine, also a finalist for the Silver Birch Young Reader's Choice Award, Graveyard of the Sea, winner of the Bolen Book Prize and a Moonbeam Children's Award, and her latest A Terrible Roar of Water.

From the author: I have always loved sharing stories. When I was out with my children, driving in the car or waiting in the grocery store lineup, there wasn't always a book handy so I started to tell stories without a book. I told lots and lots of stories until my brain filled up and there was no more room. That's when I started to write my stories down; I needed to make room in my head!
I first heard the true tale of the disaster at Turtle Mountain from another storyteller and I wanted to learn more about this piece of Canadian history. The research led me to visit the Frank Slide, which is an awe-inspiring place. The huge limestone boulders still lay where they fell over a hundred years ago and to this day hardly any trees or plants grow there. I couldn't help but wonder how terrifying it must have been to be living in Frank that night so I created Nathalie, my heroine. By writing Nathalie' story, I could see the slide through her eyes. That led me to other disasters in other parts of Canada, and other characters like Jack and Nell who also had stories to tell. Sometimes my children call me the "Disaster Queen." They say that's an entirely appropriate description of me.


Finalist, 2008 Silver Birch Award

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