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Children's Fiction General

The Smugglers

by (author) Iain Lawrence

Random House Publishing Group
Initial publish date
Oct 2000
General, Europe, Boats, Ships & Underwater Craft
Recommended Age
8 to 12
Recommended Grade
3 to 7
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2000
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


"Steer clear of that ship," warns the mysterious gentleman who shares a coach with John and his father. "Death she'll bring you," says the man. "It's the way of a ship that was christened with blood."

This is an ominous introduction to the schooner John is about to be entrusted with for a voyage to London. But he's too charmed by the pretty Dragon to heed the advice. The ship looks clever and quick, and John can hardly wait to sail her. She was a smugglers' vessel once, but now she's his Dragon, and she'll proudly carry wool for honest trade.

But soon John will be forced to consider the gentleman's warning. And to wonder what he really knows about his bonny crew.

About the author


  • Winner, ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Reluctant Readers
  • Winner, ALA Best Books for Young Adults

Contributor Notes

Iain Lawrence is a journalist, travel writer, and avid sailor.

Excerpt: The Smugglers (by (author) Iain Lawrence)

I fetched a lantern and went right to the depths of the ship, where water, brown and fetid, slurped among the timbers. I went through the darkness in a circle of light, frightening cockroaches into shelter, hearing the groans and creaks of the hull as it worked. The places where I had to go were small and cramped, and I slithered through them as the lantern made the shadows zoom and tilt.

And someone came behind me.

When I stopped, he was silent. When I moved, so did he. I heard a faint creaking of wood as he crept up, closing the distance. He was quiet as a cat. And suddenly I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I cried out, startled, as he pushed me down against the hull.

"You're in danger, boy," said he.

I tried to lift myself, to turn and see him, but the sailor held me down.

"Watch yourself," he said. "There's one aboard who'll kill you."


For a moment I only heard him breathing. He said, "The one who seems least likely."

"But who?" I asked again.

He pressed harder on my shoulder. "He'll want the dead man's secrets. See you keep them safe."

"Who are you?" I asked.

"A man you never saw." And then the hand was gone.

Editorial Reviews

"Readers who devoured The Wreckers will be eager to dig into this seafaring sequel."--Booklist, Starred

"A corking good nautical adventure."--The Horn Book Magazine

"[To] be devoured in a single sitting."--The Bulletin

"Full of vivid descriptions that are swarming with historical detail."--Kirkus Reviews

Other titles by Iain Lawrence