Laura doesn't want to keep a journal, but her mother says she must. After all, writing about the day-to-day life aboard her father's ship, the Monticello, will preserve her memories of a most interesting and at times terrifying, experience.
The Monticello is a whaling ship, and Laura's father has decided to bring Laura, her mother, and her little brother, William, along on this voyage, for as soon as they fill the ship's hold with whale oil in the Arctic they shall return to their home in New Bedford -- a home that Laura, who was born in the Sandwich Islands, has never seen.
But the long trip to the Arctic is a perilous one indeed. There are terrible storms, increasing cold, the thrill (and pity) of the whale hunt, the loss of crew members, and most of all the threat of ice, which can surround a ship and squeeze it into splinters.
Based on real journals from children who lived aboard nineteenth-century whaling ships, Peter and Connie Roop's story introduces young readers to one plucky girl and her family's unusual but fascinating lifestyle.