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2010 Nominee
Voted 7 out of 20 (tied)

Submarine Outlaw

By By Philip Roy . Published in 2008 by Ronsdale Press

Submarine Outlaw takes YA readers on a unique journey when Alfred, a young boy who wants to be an explorer — not a fisherman as his family demands — teams up with a junkyard genius to build a submarine that he sails around the Maritimes. The book takes the reader through the detailed hands-on process of submarine construction into the world of real ocean navigation, replete with a high-seas chase, daring rescue and treasure hunting. Children will identify with Alfred’s desire for an adventurous life and the sense of empowerment that comes with building his own submarine and operating it independently. They will also love the unusual crew — a rescued dog and a quirky seagull. The First Prize Winner of the Atlantic Writers Competition, Submarine Outlaw shows how any great goal in life takes a good deal of patience, determination and hard work. But also how hard work on one’s dream becomes an act of joy. Another important theme is the importance of good judgment. The main character learns first hand that he is equally able to make good and bad choices, and must quickly identify the difference. The theme of choosing a career of one’s own in the face of familial or societal opposition is also well developed. There is an element of mystery and intrigue intrinsic to submarines that makes for compelling reading. When the main character is mistaken for a Russian spy sub and chased by the Canadian coastguard, the plot takes many exciting twists, making the book difficult to put down. Children will identify with the main character because he is an average young teen filled with desire and enthusiasm, and driven to follow his dreams. Step by step they will see how a typical, average young teen comes to live a very extraordinary experience.

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