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Powder Monkey (Adventures of a Young Sailor)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  277 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Thirteen-year-old Sam Witchall has always dreamed of being a sailor, but he never realized how dangerous and gruesome life at sea could be until he is pressed into service aboard HMS Miranda. Beginning his naval career as a "powder monkey"--assisting the gun crews on the warship--Sam learns the ropes of sailing and how to cope with enemies both foreign and onboard the Mira ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens (first published October 3rd 2005)
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Master and Commander by Patrick O'BrianThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Nautical Novels
90th out of 224 books — 240 voters
Switch! The Lost Kingdoms of Karibu by Karen  PrinceEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Best Middle School Boy's Fiction
67th out of 138 books — 93 voters


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Community Reviews

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Sesana
It seems that Dowswell is primarily an author of nonfiction. It shows. He's done his research, in spades, and includes a helpful bibliography for anyone who'd want to do the same. I think more than a few of his readers would be interested in reading more about the Royal Navy in the 19th century after reading Powder Monkey. The descriptions he gives of everyday life aboard ship are vivid (graphic, even, at times) and absorbing. The best of the book is in these shipboard moments, entirely lacking ...more
Erin
I didn’t care for this book much. If you want a more interesting youthful account of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars I would recommend the Bloody Jack series. This book was dry with uninteresting characters, too many dull, directly stated facts, and a surprising amount of poorly written gore consisting of blood and guts being blown here and there in a very uncreative manner.
Sully
This is a great book. It is about a young boy who joins the Royal navy in the 18th century and all that happens throughout his life. This only the first book and I recommend reading them all.
Michelle
I read this to my friend's son, who was 10 at the time. He loved it. It is a bit gory and gross in parts because Dowswell is a historian, so he definitely attempts to keep things as realistic as possible. But in an age when kids are rarely choose to read instead of watch a movie, this series can be counted on to hold the attention of young boys...although you may want to read it first. There are some parts that are bit graphic. I found reading it aloud allowed me to edit as I went along. We are ...more
Kyle
The book I read is called Powder Monkey by Paul Dowswell. It was published by Bloomsbury publishing in 2005. This is a story about a boy that goes out to sea aboard a navy ship back in the 1800,s. He has to stay strong as he fights in battles against enemy ships just to stay alive.

This book is about a kid named Sam that wants to join the navy and become a sailor. Sam argues with his parents for a couple weeks until his parents agree to let him board a merchant ship. This is all destroyed when he
...more
Will

This book is the story of a boy who wants to go to sea. the only problem is that he is 'pressed' from his merchant ship onto a Royal Navy frigate HMS Miranda.


I started reading this book hoping for something kind of like Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy, however, it ended up rather disjointed with the chapters being a series of barely related events. Furthermore, the characters weren't very memorable I can hardly remember a single name (it

...more
Chrissy
(This review was originally written for my Young Adult Literature class and I'm reposting it here).

The bio on Dowswell says that this book is his first work of fiction, though he has written historical YA non-fiction before, and it shows. Dowswell's background in non-fiction is evident in this book, as much of it reads like a factual book on British Naval history. As a narrator, Sam does not mince words when it comes to describing the cramped and often unsanitary conditions of his voyage on the
...more
Morwen
Obwohl es ein Jugendbuch ist, ist es eines der realistischeren dieses Genres. Der Autor hat sich wirklich alle Mühe gegeben, das Leben (und Sterben) in der britischen Navy zu Nelsons Zeiten so lebensecht wir möglich zu schildern. Für Liebhaber der nautischen Literatur und solche, die es werden wollen, sehr zu empfehlen.
Duane
To begin, let me state I think this book is readers who are pre-teen or teenage of age. It's about a boy named Sam who is "pressed" into service on a Royal Navy frigate during the times of wars with French and Spanish navies. The author does a excellent job of creating a authentic atmosphere aboard a navy ship back in those days. He doesn't skip any of the nasty or gory parts, he let's the readers know what the real daily life of a powder monkey consisted of. A great adventure read and filled wi ...more
Travis Murray
I read this book and loved it, it got me from the start.
I spent nights awake reading this amazing book.
Tc
The author does a good job conveying the life and atmosphere of a powder monkey pressed into Naval service. The ending had me wondering if my copy was missing pages. A good read from a historical fiction perspective.
Dennis Hurd
Checked out by accident and had fun reading it.
Aidan Taylor
great great great
Sharon
Though not a big historical fiction fan, I was immediately caught up in the life of 13 year old Sam, pressed into service for the British navy as a powder monkey-the one who runs back and forth between the gun powder room and the artillary. Very well written, a real glimpse into life at sea with its thrills and horrors aptly described.
Varsha Seshan
A book about a young boy who becomes a sailor, it explores the way dreams change. The boy who had dreams of going to sea discovers how different his imagination is from reality. Reality is cruel and harsh, but he embraces it, loving it despite how sordid it is.
Tara
My son is reading this and I decided to pick it up too. Great way to learn about the British Navy from an adolescent boy's perspective. If you like movies like Master and Commander, you will probably like this.
Julie
Aug 12, 2012 Julie marked it as to-read
I'm sure it's fine and all, but apparently I need something more in my royal navy books to keep me interested. A more interesting main character, people outsmarting people, humor, slash, crossdressing girls, something.
Damian
This is a young adult/teen level book about a young boy who's pressganged onto a British Man-o-War and the adventures that ensue. Quick read but there are many better, deeper versions of the same kind of story.
Amara Patton
A very good historical book. The main character is faced with many difficulties not by choice because of a forced situation of being forced into the Navy. Great ending.
Sonja
The only thing that kept this from being a 4 star book was the ending. The rest of the story was so powerful that the ending was a little anticlimatic
MizziQ
This was a really good book. It was hard to read because of the small print but I didn't skip any pages and it was really intresting.
April
Story of a young sailor who is impressed into the British Navy in the 19th century and how much that sucks. Very enjoyable.
Moraa
this was a good book and i love it because it took me in a i was so into it that i didnt even want to put it down
Abbie Wagner
The Powder Monkey was really good. I really enjoyed reading it however it was a slow read.
Jessica
Sort of a Horatio Hornblower or Master and Commander for the younger reader. Lots of good detail.
Brabbelback
es ist ein sehr gites buch aber das grausigste, dass ich bis jetzt gelesen hab.
Hannah
Pretty good im kinda bored with it right now though. I am still reading it
Raphael Paulian
I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good adventure!
Zani
Zani is currently reading it
Sep 03, 2015
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