Plot: Fourteen-year-old David inherits his Uncle Owen’s small boat, The Frog, after the uncle dies suddenly from cancer. His uncle’s last wish is that David spread his ashes at sea, where land is no longer visible from the small vessel. David visits the small craft, and casts off with little advance planning, without checking the weather—all things his uncle has taught him to do with due diligence. He really did not mean to set sail, but the winds pull the boat out of the harbor, and, well, before he knows it, the weather turns, creating a perfect storm for an ill-equipped adventure that only Gary Paulsen can create. David’s grief is as raw as the seas that churn and set him off course. Adrift and tossed wildly by the Pacific Ocean, David must rely on his wits and desperately try to recall all the sea-faring knowledge that Owen had imparted in order to survive the elements, shark attacks, and deprivation.
Reading Level: Ages 10 to 14
Review: This novel draws from the same vein as Paulsen’s classic Hatchet. If you like the adventures of a lost boy survival tale, then you will like Voyage of the Frog. This later work is chock-full of nautical terms and sailing jargon (the author includes a diagram of the boat and its features for those just learning their sea legs). The book covers the same ground as Hatchet—lost boy finds himself and his way home—and the action-filled story is told through the boys inner thoughts and musings. I enjoyed both books, but found Hatchet much more accessible and gripping. Maybe it was the nautical terms. Still, sections of this book were beautiful in the observations and descriptions of the sea and the moon, tides, and winds. Of course, the ending for this book is in sight even in the opening pages, it is still a riveting ride that I would recommend for other readers.