A Crack in the Sea
A Crack in the Sea

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Annotation: Pip, a young boy who can speak to fish, and his sister Kinchen set off on a great adventure, joined by twins with magical powers, refugees fleeing post-war Vietnam, and some helpful sea monsters.
Catalog Number: #163766
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 357 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-399-54519-0 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1623-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-399-54519-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1623-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016008734
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
The Islanders never meant to come to the Second World. But come they did, and now they live peacefully alongside the Raftworlders. But the leader of the Raftworlders has a secret, one he hopes will open the portal between the worlds and bring his people home. Enter Pip and Kinchen, brother and sister Islanders. When the Raft King kidnaps Pip, desperate for Pip's gift of talking to fish, to lead him to the portal, Kinchen sets out to rescue him. Bouwman's novel is thus thrust onto the high seas! Along with Pip and Kinchen, we meet Venus and her twin brother, Swimmer gical twins who escaped a slave ship bound for Jamaica in 1871. There's also Thanh and Sang, a brother and sister fleeing war-torn Vietnam. Despite the novel's magical elements (like sea krakens and time travel), Bouwman weaves together these stories of freedom and escape with a deep sense of respect and emotion, bringing the reader directly into each family's search for a safety that transcends both time and space.
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
In the “second world” dwell people who did not arrive of their own volition. But in that world exist communities and harmony, between and among the Raftworlders (with dark brown skin and tightly curled hair) and the Islanders (with lighter-brown skin and straight hair). Access to the second world is gained through a portal, which cannot be mapped, tracked, or predicted. This novel relates the stories of three different sets of relatives, whose stories intertwine. First up are Islanders Pip and Kinchen. Pip has the gift of talking to fishes, a gift the Raft King—ruler of Raftworld—is dangerously desperate to use so that he and his people can find the portal and leave the second world. There are also Venus and her twin brother, Swimmer—enslaved people held on a ship headed for Jamaica in 1781. They escape lives of bondage and heartbreaking cruelty via the portal to the second world. Finally, readers meet Thanh and Sang, a brother and sister trying to escape war-torn Vietnam on a small boat, when a violent storm and a brutal pirate attack threaten their survival. Bouwman takes these disparate stories and fits the pieces of her puzzle together in pleasantly surprising ways, down to the very end. Shimizu’s black-and-white illustrations are lovely and vital to picturing the different worlds and moments conjured by the author. This novel touches on sensitive and tragic moments in history and gives them fantastical remediation for a provocative, immersive read. (afterword, bibliography) (Fantasy. 10-14)
Publishers Weekly
The Middle Passage and the fall of Saigon: two terrible events, separated by centuries, with seemingly nothing in common. But for Bouwman (The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap) anything is possible, including the existence of a second world. It-s 1978 there: 12-year-old Kinchen leaves her island home to save her younger brother, Pip, after he is taken to Raftworld, the vividly described floating nation of descendants of enslaved Africans brought there 200 years prior via the aquatic magic of a girl named Venus and her brother, Swimmer. On Earth, meanwhile, Thanh and his older sister, Sang, are on a motorized rowboat in the South China Sea, having escaped South Vietnam only to travel through a magical doorway to the second world-the same door the Raft King kidnapped Pip in order to find. Through the captivating interwoven tales of these three sibling pairs-and with assistance from Shimizu-s powerful ink illustrations-Bouwman crafts a moving narrative about family, magic, morality, the power of storytelling, and the cyclical nature of history. Ages 10-up. Author-s agent: Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary. (Jan.)

School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up&12; This engaging and wistful novel reimagines the outcome of tragic events from the past with a magical bent through three sibling-centered stories. First, readers meet Pip and his sister Kinchen, who live in the "second world" on one of the few pieces of viable land, the island of Tathenn. The rest of the population live on a giant community of rafts bound together, called Raftworld, ruled by the Raft King. Select people in this world are born with gifts&12;storytelling, the capacity to walk on water, and, in Pip's case, the ability to communicate with fish and other sea creatures. Next, readers are introduced to Venus and Swimmer, twins who, after being captured by a "first world" slave ship in 1781, eventually lead their people to freedom by going through a crack in the sea to the second world. Finally, there's Thanh, his sister Sang, and several relatives, who flee war-torn Vietnam in 1976 in search of a better life. A difficult journey, including a violent encounter with Thai pirates, leaves them desperate and hungry in the middle of the ocean. Though the plot is complicated and fantastical, Bouwman's world is never difficult to understand, and the three sibling tales eventually interweave beautifully. Shimizu's black-and-white illustrations enhance the narrative's progression. An afterword and further reading list provide insight and ideas for readers interested in the terrible true account of the Zong slave ship, which inspired the author. VERDICT Fans of Grace Lin will love this wholly original book that reads like a fairy tale. A moving and thought-provoking choice for library collections.&12; Kristy Pasquariello, Wellesley Free Library, MA
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (page 360).
Word Count: 74,642
Reading Level: 5.1
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.1 / points: 11.0 / quiz: 188257 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.5 / points:19.0 / quiz:Q74747
Lexile: 740L
After it sighed, the bag trembled.
Kinchen reached into her vest and pulled out her knife. What kind of clockwork had the Raft King left her?
There. The bundle twitched again. She took a step to­ward it.
The sack froze. Then it shuddered another shudder, al­most as if something inside were waking up.
Something. But what?
Kinchen's heart thrummed inside her throat; she could feel it knocking like it wanted to leap out of her mouth. She shook herself. Not me, she told herself. I'm never scared.
No, she was definitely scared.
Whatever it was, she couldn't leave now, not knowing. Kinchen took a deep breath. With her knife, she cut the rope that bound the bag shut, yanked the top open, and peered inside.
It was--
A boy. Or maybe a girl--hard to tell in the dim inte­rior of the bag. Smaller than Kinchen. Dark-skinned, like Raftworld people tended to be. More than that she couldn't see. Whoever it was, he or she lay on its side, bound and gagged, peering up at her, huge brown eyes blinking rapidly in the sudden light.
The Raft King's clockwork trade was a person.

Excerpted from A Crack in the Sea by H. M. Bouwman
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

An enchanting historical fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Thanhha Lai's Newbery Honor-winning Inside Out and Back Again
No one comes to the Second World on purpose. The doorway between worlds opens only when least expected. The Raft King is desperate to change that by finding the doorway that will finally take him and the people of Raftworld back home. To do it, he needs Pip, a young boy with an incredible gift—he can speak to fish; and the Raft King is not above kidnapping to get what he wants. Pip’s sister Kinchen, though, is determined to rescue her brother and foil the Raft King’s plans.
This is but the first of three extraordinary stories that collide on the high seas of the Second World. The second story takes us back to the beginning: Venus and Swimmer are twins captured aboard a slave ship bound for Jamaica in 1781. They save themselves and others from a life of enslavement with a risky, magical plan—one that leads them from the shark-infested waters of the first world to the second. Pip and Kinchen will hear all about them before their own story is said and done. So will Thanh and his sister Sang, who we meet in 1978 on a small boat as they try to escape post-war Vietnam. But after a storm and a pirate attack, they’re not sure they’ll ever see shore again. What brings these three sets of siblings together on an adventure of a lifetime is a little magic, helpful sea monsters and that very special portal, A Crack in the Sea.

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