Race to the Bottom of the Sea

Inventive, quirky and adventurous this is a piratical adventure with a difference!

Eleven-year-old Fidelia Quail is brainy, briny, and busy. It’s the last day of summer, after all–the last day for Fidelia and her parents, esteemed marine biologists Dr. and Dr. Quail, to tag local sharks before the fish migrate to the tropics for the winter, and the last day of calm before the seasonal gale, the Undertow, wreaks havoc on the ocean. Nothing the Quails can’t handle. But the field study goes terribly wrong when the Undertow strikes early. Dr. and Dr. Quail drown, and Fidelia finds herself landlocked, under the care of a new guardian–her aunt Julia, a timid spinster librarian whose idea of adventure lies in books, not boats. Fidelia is lost in grief, and scared to dip even a toe in the sea, a place that once felt more like home than home.
Fidelia is forced out of her mourning when she’s taken by dangerous, outlawed pirate, Merrick the Monstrous, whose list of treasons stretches longer than a ribbon eel. He was hellbent on kidnapping one of the famous Quails for a marine-related assignment–and since Dr. and Dr. Quail are unavailable, he’ll settle for their daughter. Her task? Retrieve his sunken treasure, lost somewhere on the ocean floor, buried by the Undertow’s tidal shifts and the passing of time, and do it before Merrick’s time is up–his cough is worse than a seagull flying through smog, and his disposition is foul, even for a man who is dying.

But as Fidelia and the pirates close in on the treasure, she realizes Merrick might have more ties to her family than she thought. And maybe his drive to recover the treasure isn’t pure black-hearted greed. Facing the ocean without her parents is hard enough–can Fidelia piece together the mystery of Merrick’s impending death before it’s too late?

Rights details

World-English language: Candlewick (October 2017)

Good news

Booklist’s Top 10 Incredible Journeys in Middle Grade


“A swashbuckling voyage of self-discovery.”

Nominated for Notable Children’s Books 2018 for ALSC

Starred Booklist review

“Instantly immersive . . . Earnest and exciting, this swashbuckling voyage of self-discovery sparkles even when threatened by the stormiest seas.”