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Lisle, Janet Taylor.
BLACK DUCK
New York : Sleuth/Philomel, 2006
IL 5-8, RL 5.0
ISBN 0399239634

(2 booktalks)

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Booktalk #1

It's 1929 during Prohibition in Newport, Rhode Island and Ruben Hart and his best friend Jed McKenzie just found a dead body dressed in a tuxedo washed up on the shore. It was a man, all rubbery-looking from being in the water a long time. He also had a bullet hole in his neck. There was nothing in his pockets except a pipe and a tobacco pouch. Jed's father was the chief of police and the boys raced home to report their find before the seagulls pecked the body to pieces. While running, Ruben realized he still had the pipe and pouch so he slipped them in his pocket.

Jed's dad was away, so the deputy, Charlie Price, was informed. Hours later the deputy showed up and went with the boys to look at the body. But it was gone! Charlie wanted to drop the case since there was no body and the chief seemed to be of the same opinion.

But the boys were determined to do a little investigating of their own. Money was hard to come by in 1929 and the locals were supplementing their income by smuggling liquor on their boats. Many in the community supported the smugglers even against the Coast Guard and the police. What was worse was the "Big Boys" (Mafia) from Boston and Providence wanted all the action for themselves and were putting pressure on the citizens and the law to cave in to their demands.  So when Ruben and Jed went to talk to old one-eye Tom Morrison to see if he had seen anything, he said he did indeed. And as the boys leaving, they saw three guys motor in with a high-powered boat coming to see Tom and they were all carrying machine guns. (Rhode Island Teen Book Award nominee 2007-2008)

Booktalk #2

On a foggy night in December 1929 the Black Duck full of liquor was stopped by the Coast Guard and 3 men died. In 2006 14-year-old David Peterson, not wanting to work in his dadís landscaping business, decides to break into journalism by interviewing Ruben Hart, alleged rum runner/bootlegger. Reuben reveals to David the events that lead up to that night and the dangers that followed. Ruben dispels the romance built up by Hollywood and television about this violent era.  He and his best friend Jeddy had discovered a body with a bullet hole in his neck.  It disappears but Ruben, Jeddy and his sister Marina are questioned about what was is the dead manís pockets. The Black Duck was an independent boat that could outrun the Coast Guard.  The gang who ran it had an almost Robin Hood- hero reputation among the locals. Things get tense when the Boston and New York mobs want to take over the action.  Families break apart.  Friendships are lost.  There is betrayal. Lives change.  (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2007-2008)

SUBJECTS:     Prohibition -- Fiction.
                        Friendship -- Fiction.
                        Adventure and adventurers -- Fiction.
                        Gangsters -- Fiction.
                        Newport (R.I.) History -- Fiction.

 
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