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Black Duck

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,155 Ratings  ·  297 Reviews

It is spring 1929, and Prohibition is in full swing. So when Ruben and Jeddy find a dead body washed up on the shore of their small coastal Rhode Island town, they are sure it has something to do with smuggling liquor. Soon the boys, along with Jeddy's strongwilled sister, Marina, are drawn in, suspected by rival bootlegging gangs of taking something crucial off the dead m

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 18th 2006 by Philomel
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Best Children's Historical Fiction
114th out of 599 books — 635 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 08, 2015 Jeanette rated it liked it
Easy read. Childish view of rum running during Prohibition. It moves along as the young people's thoughts and escapades make for a personality filled story (although told by an oldster an entire lifetime later). And the writing itself has a solid locale feel and doesn't suffer from the jumpiness in transitions that these "through young eyes" plots normally have. But it wasn't compelling and lacked layers of depth that these cabals usually suggest which would make it a higher star form of histori ...more
Chase Miller
Feb 21, 2016 Chase Miller rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 16, 2014 Philip rated it really liked it
Part rum-running, mob era prohibition tale, part coming-of-age story. Two kids, actually... So two coming of age stories...

The story is told through a modern day kid interviewing an old-timer - a la Titanic. (James Cameron's version, that is...)

It's historical fiction. You can read about it in an old issue of Time Magazine. What with the advent of the digital age, everything is now online.

Of course, with the advent of the digital age, print media is going out of business, so Time is now requirin
Mr. Holt
Oct 24, 2012 Mr. Holt rated it really liked it
After a slow and boring start, "The Black Duck" transformed itself into a novel of worth. The book told the story of rum running in a small New England coastal town in 1929 during the Prohibition era. The Black Duck was an elusive rum running boat that would bring the illegal alcohol from freighters to the shore to be transported to other spots around the countryside and sold for a pretty penny. The main character, Ruben Hart, tells his adventure and involvement in the rum running business to a ...more
Abby Johnson
Feb 12, 2008 Abby Johnson rated it liked it
When Ruben and his best friend Jeddy find a dead body on the beach in 1929, their lives change forever. A weird reaction from the local law enforcement causes Ruben to give the body some thought and he eventually discovers that the dead man was an infamous rum runner. During this time of Prohibition, rum runners bought booze from Canada or the West Indies and smuggled it into the country. Because the ships had to anchor in international waters, rum runners would load up small boats with the liqu ...more
Jul 18, 2008 Andy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: boys, Tom Sawyer wannabees,
Recommended to Andy by: Texas Lone Star list
David wants to become a journalist, not part of his family's landscaping business. All he needs is one great story to prove that he has what it takes to be a good writer, and maybe then he'll be hired as a news reporter.

He finds an old man who was alive during the days of the Prohibition. From this point, the novel becomes the old man's story, and David's story becomes a thinly applied series of intermissions.

This is a great novel. I really enjoyed it. A neat historical fiction book to pick up f
Mar 15, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
***kids book This historical fiction novel was a great read. It was presented as a story an old man was telling a young man in present day. It presented a mystery of sorts, while imparting the history of the U.S. during prohibition. It challenged the reader to think about how people were pulled in to participate in "rum running" even though they were against it and the mob that ran things--including the main characters dad, his best friend and the best friends dad--- the sheriff. It was during t ...more
Katie Lalor
Apr 12, 2016 Katie Lalor rated it liked it
A great historical fiction read that is on the prohibition days. Lots of action and trouble that takes place in the story. One downfall is the different perspectives. One boy interviews (present day) an older gentleman that has gone though these experiences.
Drew Lovern
Jan 15, 2015 Drew Lovern rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2015 Robert rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 31, 2009 Jeannie rated it liked it
The story, about "rumrunners" off the coast of Rhode Island, moved along fairly well. I thought it lagged in a few spots, but still it is a good, fast read. The target age group surprised me a bit. I'm not really comfortable with the "good guys" being the law breakers and the "bad guy" being someone who wanted to follow the law with the 6th grade-ish group. However, the characters are well done and the book does provide some thought provoking ideas about the age of prohibition.
Carrie Herondale
Feb 24, 2014 Carrie Herondale rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've read the reviews and I'm really, really shocked. Most of these reviews say what a great book this is. In my opinion, Black Duck is possibly the worst book I've ever read. With flat characters and a fairly predictable plot, I absolutely hated it. Had I not been forced to read this book for school, I never would have read it. I barely got through it. I am an avid reader who has read and enjoyed many classics, such as "Little Women", "Pride and Prejudice" and "A Christmas Carol". I was expecti ...more
Kevin Tejada
May 21, 2013 Kevin Tejada rated it really liked it
It was a great book that i whanted to read after the 50th page i got interested and actually finished it.and i recommended to people that like a good book.and it was mostly about two kids that go truw an experience of there life
Aug 25, 2007 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: YA, Adult
Action-packed tale of the rum runners during Prohibition. Loved it. The author paced the story very well, letting it unfold in its own time. One of my favorites of 2006.
Aug 10, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-literature
Black Duck is a thrilling story for anyone who likes action and suspense. Set in 1920’s America, it tells the story of Ruben Hart, a young boy growing up in a time when smuggling alcohol was a lucrative business. One day, he and his friend Jeddy McKenzie find a dead body washed up on the beach. The circumstances of the death are suspicious and unusual. They alert the authorities but the case is mostly ignored. The boys know something is up, but can they work together to figure out how to stop th ...more
Apr 03, 2008 Brooks rated it liked it
Well this is a good book if you want to learn about history. I really can't say much else
Jan 18, 2009 Kinda rated it it was amazing
OMG this book is great i would definelty recommend this book
to a friend.
Jun 14, 2009 Chanel rated it it was amazing
Jeddy is about to tell his father what happened to Viola.
Brendan Keogh
Dec 18, 2013 Brendan Keogh is currently reading it
Set in spring of 1929 the prohibition act is in full effect and bootlegging is big business. One day Ruben and his friend Jeddy find a dead body washed up on shore and they have a feeling it has to do with bootlegging. They are soon well aware of the impact the bootlegging industry in their small Rhode Island town. Everyone should read Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle because it as an exciting and suspenseful novel giving a first hand look at an important period of history in the United States.

Mar 12, 2014 Zach rated it really liked it
The book Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle was recommended to me by my Language Arts teacher. At first I felt that it was going to be a tough read and a bore. When I started to read the book, it was hard to comprehend and had a complex start to it. The narrators of the book are Ruben Hart, a senior citizen who supposedly had something to do with the 1929 liquor smuggling vessel the Black Duck, and a narrator describing the interview between David and Ruben. This book takes place in 1929 when the ...more
Richie Partington
Jul 15, 2013 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
18 June 2006 BLACK DUCK by Janet Taylor Lisle, Philomel Sleuth, May 2006, ISBN: 0-399-23963-4

"Money it's a crime
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie
Money so they say
Is the root of all evil today"
--Pink Floyd

"It's odd how a shocking sight can shake your mind so you don't at first register the whole, just the small, almost comical details. Like the hand complete with fancy gold wristwatch, wedding band and neatly clipped fingernails we saw bobbing on the water's surface as we came towa
Mar 05, 2009 Taylor rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: middle school & +up.
The Black Duck was pretty good. It's about a freshman student named David Peterson who wants to become a proffesional reporter/newspaper writer. He finds an old newspaper clipping about the Black Duck, a rum-running ship and decides to research it. He discovers that a man named Ruben Hart, which lived not to far from David, was in the rum-running business before. Ruben tells David the story about how he and his friend Jeddy Mckenzie find a dead body along the beach. The man's dead body had a nic ...more
Jan 19, 2009 Linda rated it liked it
This story starts out as the tale of a David, a boy who wants to be a reporter but can’t become one unless he gets a good story. So he sets off to find Ruben Hart to learn what he can about the days of the rumrunners and the fate of the Black Duck. David doesn’t get the story he wants immediately, but Ruben eventually tells David his tale. It is 1929; the height of Prohibition, and best friends Ruben and Jeddy find a body washed up on the shores of their Rhode Island village. The body mysterious ...more
Dec 22, 2010 Ruthanne rated it really liked it
David is beginning his freshman year of high school and hopes to become a journalist. While searching for a good story, he comes across a newspaper article about the rum-running business that went on in his Rhode Island town some 70 years ago. He recognizes the name of one of the townspeople involved with the Black Duck and decides to interview him. Ruben Hart, pretty apprehensive about telling young David his story, has a change of heart and decides that he should tell David what really happene ...more
My rating 4 stars out of 5 because I didn't really like the back and forth between past and present. It wasn't completely necessary, IMHO. Black Duck is a work of historical fiction set in 1929 along the coast of Rhode Island. I knew very little about rum running before I started reading the book, so I was really glad for the author's note at the back the of the book to tell me what was fact and what was fiction. The book begins in present day. And then flashes back to 1929. The action really be ...more
Maureen E
by Janet Taylor Lisle

Opening line: “A rumrunner had lived in town, one of the notorious outlaws who smuggled liquor during the days of Prohibition, that was the rumor.”

David wants to be come a reporter and so he decides to look into the story. Over time he forms a connection with Ruben Hart, who tells him what happened to the Black Duck, a famous rumrunning boat, all those years ago.

This was a book that I probably should have liked a bit more than I did. It takes an interesting time in a America
Feb 29, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing
This is the story of Reuben Hart and his friend Jeddy MacKenzie from a small town in Rhode Island (I'm guessing at the spellings because I listened to the audiobook). They get caught up in the drama of the rum running trade during Prohibition.

I really really really enjoyed this book. It's a story within a story, opening when a kid from nowadays wants to get a job with the local paper, and to prove himself, he goes to get a story from the one surviving man in town that might have been part of th
Jan 18, 2009 Kris rated it really liked it
Virginia Readers' Choice 2008-2009. Recommended for gr. 5-8. Should appeal to boys. The bulk of the story is told as a flashback. David is a 14-year-old who wants to break into the newspaper business so that he does not need to follow his father into landscaping. He decides to research rum-running in his community during the Prohibition era. He interviews Ruben, an older man who is rumored to have been involved in rum-running. Ruben's story takes over the book, interspersed with brief returns to ...more
Nov 09, 2011 Darla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Genre:children's fiction/historical) The "Black Duck" was the actual name of a boat that ran liquor (a rum runner) during prohibition in the 1920-1930's along the New England coast. This book is told from the viewpoint of Ruben, a teenager living in a small Rhode Island coastal town during that same time period. As the story unfolds, the author does a great job of letting you see the effects (both positive and negative) of the illegal rum running and how it could impact the lives of so many peo ...more
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