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Black Duck
Cover of Black Duck
Black Duck
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When Ruben and Jeddy find a dead body in an evening suit washed up on the shore, they are certain it has to do with smuggling liquor. It is spring 1929, Prohibition is in full swing, and many in their community are involved.
Soon the boys, along with Jeddy's strong-willed sister, Marina, are drawn in, suspected by rival bootlegging gangs of taking something crucial off the dead man. Then Ruben meets the daring captain of the Black Duck, the most elusive smuggling craft of them all, and it isn't long before he's keeping dangerous company.
Inspired by very real accounts of the Black Duck, a legendary rum-running boat that worked the New England shores during the era, Newbery Honor winner Janet Taylor Lisle has produced a colorful, original work of historical fiction.
From the Compact Disc edition.
When Ruben and Jeddy find a dead body in an evening suit washed up on the shore, they are certain it has to do with smuggling liquor. It is spring 1929, Prohibition is in full swing, and many in their community are involved.
Soon the boys, along with Jeddy's strong-willed sister, Marina, are drawn in, suspected by rival bootlegging gangs of taking something crucial off the dead man. Then Ruben meets the daring captain of the Black Duck, the most elusive smuggling craft of them all, and it isn't long before he's keeping dangerous company.
Inspired by very real accounts of the Black Duck, a legendary rum-running boat that worked the New England shores during the era, Newbery Honor winner Janet Taylor Lisle has produced a colorful, original work of historical fiction.
From the Compact Disc edition.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Listen
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.8
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    7 - 12

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the cover

    A secret memory . . .

    What happened next that spring afternoon is something I know Jeddy remembers. I can see us standing there, two raw-boned boys beside the bootleg crate, seagulls wheeling overhead, making dives on a tidal pool up the beach from us. Almost as an afterthought we wandered toward this pool, not expecting to see anything. It came into view with no more drama than if it had been a sodden piece of driftwood lying on the sand: a naked human leg.

    JANET TAYLOR LISLE

    For Richard Lisle, with love.

    This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to current events, locales, or living persons is entirely coincidental.

    Table of Contents

    Newport Daily Journal, December 30, 1929

    COAST GUARDS KILL THREE SUSPECTED RUM RUNNERS

    FIRE ON UNARMED SPEEDBOAT BLACK DUCK WITH LARGE CARGO OF LIQUOR

    NEWPORT, DEC. 30—Three alleged rum runners were killed by machine gun fire and another man was wounded near Newport shortly before 3 o'clock Sunday morning, according to the Coast Guard. The men were in a 50-foot speedboat well-known locally as the Black Duck.

    The boat, carrying a cargo of 300 cases of smuggled liquor, was stumbled on in dense fog by Coast Guard Patrol Boat 290. A burst of machine gun fire killed all three men instantly in the pilot house. A fourth crew member was shot through the hand. No arms were found on board.

    "The shooting is unfortunate but clearly justified by U.S. Prohibition law forbidding the trade or consumption of liquor anywhere in the United States," a Coast Guard spokesman said in a statement to reporters last night. "These rogue smugglers threaten our communities and must be stopped."

    Other details were not available as authorities kept them guarded.

    The Interview

    A RUMRUNNER HAD LIVED IN TOWN, ONE OF the notorious outlaws who smuggled liquor during the days of Prohibition, that was the rumor. David Peterson heard he might still be around.

    Where?

    No one knew exactly. It was all so long ago.

    Well, who was he?

    This was equally vague. Someone said to ask at the general store across from the church.

    It would be a miracle if the man was still alive, David thought. He'd be over eighty. If he were anywhere, he'd probably be in a nursing home by now.

    But it turned out he wasn't. He still lived in town. Ruben Hart was his name.

    The number listed in the telephone book doesn't answer. There is an address, though. David has his mother drop him off at the end of the driveway. It's June. School is over. He tells her not to wait.

    The house is gray shingle, hidden behind a mass of bushes that have grown up in front of the windows. David isn't surprised. It's what happens with old people's homes. Plantings meant to be low hedges or decorative bushes sprout up. Over time, if no one pays attention, they get out of control. David's family is in the landscaping business and he knows about the power of vegetation. He's seen whole trees growing through the floor of a porch, and climbing vines with their fingers in the attic. Left to its own devices, nature runs amok.

    David knocks on the front door. After a long pause, an old fellow in a baggy gray sweater opens up. David tells him straight out why he's come: he's looking for a story to get in the local paper.

    They won't hire me, but the editor says if I come up with a good story, he'll print it. I want to be a reporter, he announces, all in one breath.

    Is that so? the man says. His face has the rumpled look...

About the Author-
  • Janet Taylor Lisle was born in Englewood, New Jersey, and grew up in Farmington, Connecticut, spending summers on the coast of Rhode Island. The eldest and only daughter in a family of five children, she was educated at local schools and at fifteen entered the Ethel Walker School, a girl's boarding school in Simsbury, Connecticut.After graduation from Smith College in 1969 with a degree in English literature, she enlisted and was trained for work in VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). She lived and worked for the next two years in Atlanta, Georgia, organizing food-buying cooperatives in the city's public housing projects and teaching in an early child-care center. Catalyzed by this experience, she enrolled in journalism courses at Georgia State University with the idea of writing about the poverty she had seen. This was the beginning of a reporting career that extended over the next ten years.With the birth of her daughter in 1977, Lisle turned to writing projects that could be accomplished at home. In 1984, The Dancing Cats of Applesap, her first novel for children, was published. Subsequently, she has published ten other novels.
    David Ackroyd is an audiobook narrator known for Legacy, Creatures of a Kingdom, Death Comes for the Archbishop, Never Fuck Up, Swamplandia, A Boy and His Bot, First Light, Hoodwinked, and many more.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine In 1929, a rum-running boat called the Black Duck lost most of its crew to an altercation with the Coast Guard. Janet Taylor Lisle uses this incident as the inspiration for this story of life in a small Rhode Island town in the midst of Prohibition and the friendship of two 14-year old boys, Ruben and Jeddy. Years later, 14-year-old David interviews Ruben in hopes of writing a story for the newspaper. David Ackroyd does a superb job of narration. His wonderful gravelly voice is perfect for the spirited elderly Ruben reeling off tales. Ackroyd affects an eager and appealing quality for all the teenagers in the story, including the female characters. BLACK DUCK is marvelous fun for all ages. A.B. (c) AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 1, 2006
    The title of Lisle's (The Art of Keeping Cool
    ) suspenseful novel refers to a rumrunner—one of the boats used during Prohibition to smuggle outlawed liquor into the U.S. Readers will likely look past the awkward frame story—a contemporary student interviews Ruben Hart, who was a child during Prohibition—as they sink deeper into Ruben's story. In the spring of 1929, while Ruben and his friend Jeddy look for lobster pots, they come across a man's body washed up on the beach, elegantly dressed, with a bullet hole through his neck. They go back to report it, but when the police arrive, the body has vanished. The situation grows complicated: Jeddy's father is chief of police, Ruben's father works for general store owner Mr. Riley, whom Ruben suspects may be involved in the bootlegging, and an old fisherman living in a seaside shack is roughed up as some men come looking for a mysterious "ticket." Much is at stake, as many locals supplement their livelihood by unloading the rumrunners, and townsfolk suspect there is a traitor in their midst. This is a gripping tale of families and friendships stretched to the breaking point as the community around Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay is caught in the escalating conflict between rival gangs. Faux reproductions of period articles anchor the narrative and move the story along. Even though readers know from the get-go that the Black Duck
    will come to no good, they will eagerly turn the pages to find out how. Ages 10-up.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2007
    Gr 7-10- -Fourteen-year-old David comes across a few stories about life in Rhode Island during prohibition while researching an article he wants to write for his local paper. An aspiring journalist, David follows his leads which take him to Ruben, an elderly man who has some secrets he has never revealed to anyone. During the course of the summer, David and Ruben become an unlikely pair as Ruben talks about his past and how he came to know about theBlack Duck, a rum-running boat that worked the New England shores during Prohibition, and the pain, betrayal, heartache, and murder that came along with that knowledge. Ruben's story begins in 1929 when he and his best friend discover a body floating in the water. When the police finally arrive to check it out, the body has disappeared. Janet Taylor Lisle's historical novel ((Philomel, 2006), inspired by actual accounts of theBlack Duck, will keep listeners enthralled. The stories of two teen boys-David and Ruben-during two very different time periods, are set perfectly against each other. Narrator David Ackroyd vividly conveys Ruben's recollections and perfectly portrays the young man's eagerness and curiosity. An excellent selection for school and public libraries.-Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Teen Services Librarian, Fairport Public Library, NY

    Copyright 2007 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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