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Abigail Takes the Wheel
illus. by Don Bolognese
HarperCollins, 1999
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Abigail Takes the Wheel

Collision in the Harbor! Abigail and her brother, Tom, travel to school every day aboard their father's freight boat, the Neptune. One day, two ships collide in the Narrows, and Abigail's father goes to their aid—leaving Abigail to take the Neptune's wheel. Can she and Tom steer the freight boat through the crowded and dangerous waters of New York Harbor alone?

Behind the Book

Avi writes: I had come upon an old copy of St. Nicholas Magazine. Saint Nick, as it was called, was a monthly magazine for young people which began to be published shortly after the Civil War and lasted into the 1940s. It was very popular, and enormously influential. Virtually all the important writers for young people wrote for it. In the issue that I found there was an account of a girl who captained a paddle-wheeler through busy, crowded New York harbor, when the man who was supposed to guide the boat became ill. The magazine article reported the rather amazing incident with the tone that this actually happened. I did try to find a record of the story in the newspapers of the day—but without success. Regardless, I took the story and recast it as I did here.


“Abigail is a spunky heroine cast in a sturdy story; the suspense will hold readers just ready for chapter books.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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