Project Description

Teacher’s Guide

Chasing the Nightbird

by Krista Russell

As the son of famous Black Jack Valera, the best whaler on the eastern seaboard, thirteen-year-old Lucky Valera led a charmed life at sea, until his father dies and his estranged older half-brother, Fortuna, kidnaps him.

Lucky’s hopes of joining the crew of the whaling ship, Nightbird, are dashed as Fortuna forces him into servitude at the nearby mill. But when Lucky meets Emmeline, a spirited girl with abolitionist sympathies, and Daniel, a fugitive slave from the South, his dream to return to his old life 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.

Krista Russell’s action-packed historical adventure, following a brave young protagonist willing to risk everything for his freedom, offers a glimpse into a unique historical time and setting and will leave readers on the edge of their seats.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-597-3
Publication Date: 9/1/2011
Page Count: 192
Size: 6 ̎ x 8-1/2 ̎
Age Range: 10 – 14
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Price: $7.95
ISBN: 978-1-68263-065-5
Publication Date: 10/1/2018
Page Count: 192
Size: 6 ̎ x 8-1/2 ̎
Age Range: 10 – 14
Language: English
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1-56145-869-1
Age Range: 10 – 14
Language: English

Purchase this eBook through the following vendors:

Barnes & Noble

AR Level: 4.6
F&P: X, Gr 6, Genre HF
Lexile: 680L
Themes: Cape Verde, Freedom, Quakers, Slavery
BISAC 1: JUV001000 JUVENILE FICTION / Action and Adventure / General
BISAC 2:  JUV016000 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / General
BISAC 3: JUV016200 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)


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

“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

“Teachers, there are so many invaluable lessons here.” ―SouthCoast Today

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“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

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

“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 and Kids Books Central

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Parents’ Choice Recommended Award ―Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2011

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People ―National Council for the Social Studies, Children’s Book Council, 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

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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.