Project Description

Teacher’s Guide

Chasing the Nightbird

by Krista Russell

In this action-packed historical adventure, a brave young man must rely on his wits and his friends to escape an unwelcome fate.

As the son of the famous Black Jack Valera, the best whaler on the eastern seaboard, thirteen-year-old Lucky Valera has led a charmed and happy life at sea.

Following his father’s death, Lucky is kidnapped and pressed into a life of servitude by his cruel and embittered half brother, Fortuna. He immediately puts Lucky to work under harsh conditions in a textile mill and confiscates the boy’s wages.

But when Lucky meets Emmeline, a spirited girl with abolitionist sympathies, and Daniel, a fugitive slave from the South, his dream for a return to his old life of freedom and the sea seems to be within reach. That is, if he and his new friends can outwit and outrun Fortuna and an enraged slave trader, both of whom will stop at nothing to get back what they believe is their rightful property.

Hardcover: $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-597-3
Total Pages: 192
Size: 6 x 8 1/2
Language: English
Format: E-book
ISBN: 978-1-56145-869-1
Age Range: 10 – 14
Language: English

Purchase this E-book through the following vendors:

Baker & Taylor
Barnes & Noble
Recorded Books

Accelerated Reader
AR Quiz#: 145942
AR Reading Level: 4.6
AR Points: 7

F&P (Fountas & Pinnell)
F&P Level: V
F&P Grade: 5

Reading Counts
Reading Counts Level: 4.2
Reading Counts Points: 13
Reading Counts Interest Level: 6-8


“…Solid work, featuring a strong-minded protagonist bent on doing the best he can with what he’s been given.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“…Stories like this are a way to get students interested, and make history come alive…” ―Work a Day Reads blog

“…Lucky was such a scrappy, likeable character. I was rooting for him from the very beginning…a good adventure for young readers…” ―The Literate Mother blog

“…Without slowing the story’s pace, Russell gives readers plenty to think about…Strong-willed and good-hearted, Lucky is an especially vibrant hero in this multifaceted and suspenseful historical adventure…” ―Publishers Weekly

Read More

“Krista Russell got the historical part of the story right and did the right research…The book brought a lot of historical facts and lessons throughout the story. I got drawn in right away when Daniel and Emmeline come into the story, and the tales of the other slaves. It was likable, and a very enjoyable read. I would suggest this book to many middle graders. Young adults might appreciate this book as well.” ―The Story Seekers blog

“…Author Krista Russell presents the moral dilemma with the Fugitive Slave Act in a climatic story by adding just enough historical background to aid the story, but not too much that it takes away from the character development. Strong characters and a well-paced exciting plot make Chasing the Nightbird a strong historical fiction novel especially suited for boys ages 10-14. Emmeline is a strong, likeable character that will appeal to girls as well.” ―Boys to Books blog

“This was a really great read for several reasons. Russell’s vocabulary and vernacular are so genuine and spot on that I really felt like I was swept away to the wharfs of Massachusetts in 1851. After finishing this book, I had the whimsical urge to call people scallywags and landlubbers. For younger readers especially, the language is just so much fun and really adds a genuine layer to the reading experience…” ―Word Spelunking blog

“…Ms. Russell does a very nice job of drawing you a verbal picture of the life and times of Massachusetts during the 1850’s…This is a fast moving tale with danger and no mercy shown on any front…This is a great way to expand their knowledge of the era.” ―Book Faerie blog

“Newcomer Krista Russell desires to expose children and young adults to the historical realities of the slave trade and the abolitionist movement. She skillfully weaves historical truths into her story, and the result pulls the reader deep into the not-so-distant past…” ―YA Books Central blog

“…What I loved about this book was watching a young teenager find himself, finds love in unexpected people, and a life full of possibilities if he can only get by those with revenge, murder, and kidnapping on their minds. Kids, especially boys, like to read of sailors, fights, secrets, and sneaking around in the dark with others on their tail. This is the perfect book for it…” ―Bella Online blog

“Teachers, there are so many invaluable lessons here…” ―Southcoast Today online

Read Less


Parents’ Choice Recommended Award ―Parents’ Choice Foundation 2011

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People ―NCSS/CBC 2012

Massachusetts Book Awards (Must-Read Children’s / Young Adult Literature) ―Massachusetts Center for the Book 2012

Young Adult Top Forty ―Pennsylvania School Librarians Association 2012

Meet the Author

Krista Russell is a graduate of Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular fiction program. A Massachusetts native, she now lives in Georgia. You can visit her website here.