Cover image for Polaris / Michael Northrop.
Polaris / Michael Northrop.

First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Inc., 2019.

Physical Description:
278 pages : map ; 20 cm
"In the 1830s Owen Ward is cabin boy on the "Polaris," a ship on a voyage of scientific exploration, when illness and a mutiny off the coast of Brazil cause the adult crew to abandon the ship, leaving the handful of young cabin attendants and deckhands behind. The young seafarers are determined to bring their ship to safety, but when one of them disappears they begin to suspect that there is something deadly on board with them"-- Provided by publisher.
Audience/Reading Level:
Reading grade level: 6.

Interest grade level: 4-7.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
NOR Paperback Junior Action Fiction

On Order



Alone at sea, with only the stars to guide them...

The proud sailing ship Polaris is on a mission to explore new lands, and its crew is eager to bring their discoveries back home. But when half the landing party fails to return from the Amazon jungle, the tensions lead to a bloody mutiny. The remaining adults abandon ship, leaving behind a cabin boy, a botanist's assistant, and a handful of deckhands -- none of them older than twelve. Troubled by whispers of a strange tropical illness and rumors of a wild beast lurking onshore, the young sailors are desperate to steer the vessel to safety. When one of their own already missing and a strange smell drifting up from belowdecks, the novice crew begins to suspect that someone -- or something -- else is onboard. Having steeled themselves for the treacherous journey home, they now have more to fear than the raging waters of the Atlantic...

Author Notes

Michael Northrop is the New York Times bestselling author of TombQuest, an epic book and game adventure series featuring the magic of ancient Egypt. He is also the author of Trapped , an Indie Next List selection, and Plunked , a New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection and an NPR Backseat Book Club pick. An editor at Sports Illustrated Kids for many years, he now writes full-time from his home in New York City. Learn more at

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a chilling tale of horror on the high seas, set in the 1830s, a scientific mission to the Amazon jungle turns into a desperate struggle for survival after the crew brings something unexpected and terrifying on board. Following a brutal mutiny, every adult on the Polaris is either dead or has fled, leaving behind half a dozen children, including the captain's 12-year-old nephew Owen, botanist's assistant Henry, and assorted other ship's boys, two of whom are girls in disguise. As tempers rise, food grows short, and the sea turns fierce, the young remnants of the Polaris crew must somehow sail the decrepit ship to safe harbor, but an abomination lurks below decks, growing in strength and ferocity. Northrop (the TombQuest series) incorporates a wealth of nautical and historical detail while making skilled use of atmosphere, tension, and a well-developed cast to drive home the darkness of this adventure. A brisk read, but one that is sure to linger after the lights have been turned out. Ages 9-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

A scientific exploration to the Amazon leads to mutiny aboard the nineteenth-century ship Polaris. Although the children on board survive, they are faced with the typical dangers of a sea journey home, as well as some sort of monster lurking below decks. There's just enough science to give the sci-fi creature some credibility, and the characters' motivations ring true. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Aaron lifted his head and drew in a long breath through his nose. "Is that smoke?" he said. Owen sniffed the air. It was smoke. He leaned closer to the door. A gust of wind whistled through the gap, and suddenly the smell was stronger. "We have to get out of here!" he said. This time, the others didn't argue. They rushed the door together. Owen and Aaron, the two largest, were in front. They buried their shoulders into the wood as the smaller boys pushed from behind. But the wood was thick. Owen's shoulder ached as they drew back and crashed into the door for the third, fourth, and then fifth time. Stars burst and swirled across his vision. Finally, on the sixth try, he heard a dry, splintering sound. The door was pulling away from one of its heavy iron hinges. He shifted over, targeting that edge, and with two more bull rushes, the old door broke free. Owen stepped through first, squinting into flickering firelight and coughing on thick smoke. His fists were clenched, ready for a fight, but the threat he saw was far more explosive. "What the blazes?" he said as the others filed out behind him. It was a fitting oath, because in the center of the deck, a fire was burning. A length of rolled-up sailcloth had been curled into a semicircle, with one end aflame and the other end wedged beneath a wooden barrel. "That's gunpowder!" shouted Aaron. Excerpted from Polaris by Michael Northrop 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.