Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Journey of John Quincy Adams

Dangerous Crossing: The Revolutionary Journey of John Quincy Adams

Stephen Krensky
Illustrator:  Greg Harlin 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Penguin, 2004   ISBN: 978-0525469667

Johnny Adams is going on a real journey with his father. He is not just going on a trip outside Massachusetts, but he is also leaving America, and he is doing so in secret. America is at war with England and it is hoped that John Adams, Johnny's "calm and thoughtful" father will be able to get help for the "rebel" side from the French.

Johnny and his father are making this vital journey in mid-winter, when the temper of the Atlantic is particularly uncertain and it isn't long before Johnny is feeling the effects of the rolling waves and high winds.

When things calm down at last, Johnny and his father go on deck. It isn't long before three ships are seen in the distance. Though Mr. Adams would prefer to head away from trouble, the other men sailing on the Boston are keen to investigate. Unfortunately Mr. Adams' fears were warranted, the three ships are English frigates and the odds of three English ships to one American do not make him feel confident.

With calm understatement typical of John Adams' own writing style, Stephen Krensky, describes how the valiant Boston fights against dreadful storms, how it survived being blown off course, being severely damaged, and being threatened by the cannon of another ship.

To write this book the author drew on the words written in John Adams’ meticulously written diary and it is therefore a wonderfully accurate account of the great man’s adventures on the high seas. It is made all the more exciting and accessible because it is written through the eyes of a young boy who is going on his first real voyage away from home. Beautiful watercolor paintings bring the adventure to life and an author’s note at the back of the book provides further information about John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams – who would one day become the sixth president of the United States.