Avi's characters often mature in flawed, youthful ways, and Charlotte Doyle as a girl not particularly good at self-reflection is no exception. She gr...moreAvi's characters often mature in flawed, youthful ways, and Charlotte Doyle as a girl not particularly good at self-reflection is no exception. She grows significantly (more than would likely be historically accurate; more on that in a moment), but rarely through an accurate internal monologue - though part of her growth is in fact the improving accuracy in how she critically evaluates her world.
Most historical fiction about girls choose to either flout strictures of the time regarding girls' behavior and expectations, or to limit the plot by working within such limitations. Charlotte begins as just such a limited character in just such a limited world, but the adventuresome plot takes her well beyond such behavior and expectations. While the openness with which she confronts her world later in the book may not be the historic norm, it functions appropriately to make the story interesting and relatable for modern readers.
ELL's may enjoy the appendices labeling the parts of a ship and showing the timetable for keeping watch. The other vocabulary is similarly advanced, but knowing that the nautical words are just as unfamiliar to fluent English speakers may encourage ELLs to dive in (pun intended). Connecting that vocabulary to dictionary pronunciation guides or online sound files will be essential for such words as forecastle and gunwale. Although not an easy book, it still contains yet-deeper maturity of plot and characterization that will keep readers from feeling like they are reading a tale intended for younger children.(less)