By: Heidi Smith Hyde
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 30, 2012
Nine-year-old Emanuel Aguilar smiled as he helped his father load up supplies for one of New Bedford’s many whalers. Waterproof boots hung from the rafters, a shovel nestled beside the doorway, and assorted provisions were in barrels that lined the walls of his father’s store. New Bedford’s harbor bustled with activity as men loaded supplies on their ships, ships that would soon leave “in search of whales whose oil was used to make candles and to light the lamps in the days before electricity.” Emanuel yearned for the life of a seafaring whaler, but his father discouraged his dream claiming the life of a merchant was safer.
Captain Henshaw became animated as he regaled his small audience with tales of the sea and the elusive whales. Emanuel’s eyes grew wide and he clutched the store counter in awe of the man. Papa always seemed cautious and even when it was time to light the Shabbat candles, he did so behind closed doors. Jews had kept their religion secret in Portugal, but why did they hide in New Bedford? Emanuel decided to escape during the night and set sail with the Captain, but an unexpected storm began to brew. The seas decided to capture the ship and Emanuel’s dreams. Was there anything that could save them or would they perish at sea like so many others before them?
This is an exciting, historical tale of young Emanuel and the lessons everyone learns from him. Although this tale is fictional, we get a glimpse of the whaling history of New Bedford, Massachusetts and the Jews who “emigrated from Portugal.” In the front of the book is a brief history of the group, including the fact that many became merchants. The tale, seen through young Emanuel’s eyes, quickly picks up and will thrill the young reader as he embarks on his adventure. Embedded in the story the reader will learn about Hanukkah and it’s importance to the Jews. The twist at the end of the story is heartwarming, something that both young and old will enjoy!
Quill says: This thrilling tale of a young boy's seafaring adventure will excite its young audience!