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Intro

In A Nutshell

Shmoopers, we'd like to introduce you to some furry fairy godmothers: Helena, Louise, Beatrice, and Lamont. They're spunky. They're small. Oh—and they're mice.

Yep, mice. Talking mice, to be exact.

Just open up a copy of Secrets at Sea, and you'll find cute little rodents in every nook and cranny. In Richard Peck's coming-of-age tale, we've got a horde of mice about to go on a big crazy adventure, and they're gearing up to meddle in some human affairs along the way.

While this book gives us a pretty peaceful opening—we've got our new mice friends living in America, and life is pretty fine and dandy—don't be fooled. Their world is about to turn upside-down when their humans, the Cranston family, decide to sail to England because they want their daughter, Olive, to find a handsome English chap and get hitched. Now these mice are in for some major changes. We're talking sea-faring, duchess-meeting, tea-drinking changes.

On board the ship, the Cranston mice don't just lay low—nope, they make it their business to get into everyone else's business. This means they take matchmaking into their hands (okay, paws), and get to work. With these furry fairy godmothers scurrying behind the scenes, maybe—just maybe—this new life in England will turn out all right.

Now when you've got a book that includes talking mice and secret romances, you've got a recipe for awesomeness. And that's exactly what Peck's readers think. Ever since he published Secrets at Sea in 2011, readers have been scampering to get their paws (okay, hands) on it.

And Peck is no newbie to the book-writing game. He's written dozens of novels for young adults, and he's even won the seriously prestigious Newbery Medal. So it's no surprise that this young adult adventure story is another keeper.

 

Why Should I Care?

There's no denying it: it's tough to face your fears. Whether they're spiders or scary movies, fears sure can be hard to tackle. And if there's anyone who knows what it's like to be afraid, it's a little mouse named Helena Cranston.

Here's the deal with Helena: she's scared of just about everything. Okay, maybe not everything, but her list is pretty long—her phobias range from barns to birds to water. And when you're a mouse who's afraid of water, the very last place you want to be is on a huge ship. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean. For a really long time.

But with some hard work and faith in herself, Helena finds a way to overcome her fears. Sure she's scared as all get-out when she and her mice siblings hop on board a big boat and sail to England, but in learning to face her fears, Helena has some great adventures, too. She makes new chums and she even meets royalty. Our gal Helena is here to remind us that facing our fears might actually turn out to be fun. Who knew?

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