Secrets at Sea Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Secrets at Sea

A family of American mice sail across the ocean to England in order to start a new life for themselves, find new loves and conquer old fears. Helena, Louise and Beatrice are a trio of mice sisters living in the basement of the home of an American family called the Cranstons. They have a brother Lamont who also lives with him. The mice family is descended from the oldest mouse family in America and is very prominent, though they are without parents because they're mom and dad drowned in a water barrel. Understandably, the four mice have a fear of water. The mice are comfortable in their home. They consider themselves American and use the Cranston's last name as their own so it's no surprise when they overhear the Cranston family discussing plans to move to England to find their eldest daughter a husband. The mice is nervous; of course they will move with the Cranstons, but this means having to sail across a massive body of water! The mice are frightened but decide it is the best interest to follow the Cranstons overseas. The mice hide aboard one of the Cranston's luggage cases and are soon on the ship. They emerge from the luggage and are greeted by a handsome mouse steward named Nigel who shows them around and warns them about the ship's cat. Beatrice is already swooning over handsome Nigel. Nigel then takes them to a dining room and as it turns out the Cranston mice are not the only mice aboard the ship. There are at least 150 mice seated at tables waiting for their fancy dinners. The most important mouse there is The Royal Highness, Duchess of Cheddar Gorge, a royal mouse who lives in Buckingham Palace. As the sisters are seated next to the Duchess, they are able to pick up some gossip about the human Cranstons. Apparently, the American born Cranstons have not made a very good impression thus far in English society. Olive Cranston, the daughter who is in dire need of a husband is wearing the wrong sort of dresses and looks uncouth and in any case, there are only three bachelor's onboard the ship; one is too old, one is too young and one is the right age for Olive but quite handsome and posh. The Cranston mice think they that might have to help Olive find a good husband. The next day, the Cranston mice are invited to take tea with the Duchess. The Duchess informs the sisters that the human Cranstons are not making the most favorable impression with the higher ups in English society and that the Cranston mice need to help. They devise a way to get Olive Cranston into a party being thrown by the fourth princess of Queen Elizabeth. At the end of tea time, yet another handsome mouse shows up, Lord Peter Henslowe. The night of the party, the Cranstons don't do very well, as is expected. Olive is still sea sick, Mrs. Cranston talks ceaselessly and Mr. Cranston is awkward and bumbling. Their younger daughter Camille does just fine though. The same night, as Helena is headed back to her room she comes across Olive Cranston kissing the ships doctor. So much for her matching up with the handsome human bachelor Lord Peter. Amongst the mice, it seems the mouse Lord Peter and Beatrice are getting pretty cozy and Louise has made new mousey friends. Helena is feeling a bit left out at this point. Good news for the Cranston family though. Both Cranston daughters are to be married. Olive is engaged to the ship's doctor and Camille is engaged to the handsome Lord Peter. That night at an engagement party aboard the ship, Helena is asked by the Duchess of Cheddar Gorge to become her lady in waiting and Beatrice and Lord Peter seem like they are on the road to be engaged as well. Helena agrees to the Duchess of Cheddar Gorge's offer but makes a request; she will accept only on the condition that her sister Beatrice and Lord Peter can be married in Buckingham Palace. The Duchess of Cheddar Gorge is somewhat surprised but agrees to the request as she has greatly taken a liking to the mature and caring Helena. However, the day the mice prepare to leave the ship after their long and eventful voyage, Beatrice has an announcement. It turns out she is not leaving the ship. She's staying aboard so that she can marry the ship's handsome steward Nigel. Helena is shocked to say the least. She was convinced Beatrice was going to marry Lord Peter but no, it was Nigel Beatrice was in love with the entire time. She's adamant she is going to marry Nigel and is not swayed by Helena's disapproval. Helena would have preferred Beatrice marry the mouse with the royal title because it would mean she wouldn't have to worry about Beatrice in the future. Helena has no choice but to accept her sister's happiness. The Duchess of Cheddar Gorge is still agreeable to letting Beatrice have her wedding at Buckingham Palace and so they do. All the mice that were aboard the ship show up for the wedding. Everything seems to have worked out for the Cranston family and the Cranston mice. The Cranstons are settled into English society and the Cranston mice are settling nicely into their new life as well. Beatrice is married, Louise is happy, their little brother Lamont has taken a job as a mouse steward in training aboard the ship and it looks like Helena has a suitor after all; the handsome Lord Peter asks to dance with her all night long. How could Helena refuse? After looking out for the safety and well-being of her family for so long, it's time for Helena to have some fun for herself!
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Best part of story, including ending: I thought this was a cute story. It reminded me a bit of Fival: An American Tale, another story of humanized rats trying to make their way in the world of humans. It made me nostalgic.

Best scene in story: I thought the ending was cute as well. I liked that at the end Beatrice ended up marrying Nigel and Helena finally got some attention from somebody; the description of the wedding scene was a nice touch.

Opinion about the main character: The main character Helena was a bit overbearing at times, but this was mainly because she was the older sister and was always trying to do right by her younger sisters. As someone with a younger sibling, I can relate to that sort of behavior and I ultimately liked her determination to keep her family together and happy.

The review of this Book prepared by Kyle Spencer a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Secrets at Sea

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   humorous Time/era of story    -   1600-1899 Animal story    -   Yes Kind of animal:    -   mouse/rat Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Animal talks/thinks aloud?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   unemployed Age:    -   a teen


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   7 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Water?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Richard Peck Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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