Cover image for Shadows on the sea
Shadows on the sea
Harlow, Joan Hiatt.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
244 pages ; 19 cm
In 1942, fourteen-year-old Jill goes to stay with her grandmother on the coast of Maine, where she is introduced to the often gossipy nature of small-town life, and discovers that the war is closer than she thought.
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.2 5.0 71686.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The United States is at war with Germany. Fourteen-year-old Jill Winter's mother is traveling to Newfoundland to be with Jill's sick uncle and must pass through the treacherous North Atlantic where German submarines -- U-boats -- stalk like wolves. Jill's father, a famous pop singer, is on tour, so Jill is sent to Winter Haven, Maine, to stay with Nana.
Quarry, a local boy, says that "gossip ain't never been so good," and Jill soon discovers he's right -- Winter Haven is full of secrets and rumors. First there's Wendy, a teenager who's visiting her aunt Adrie, the owner of a local inn, and who tells so many fanciful stories and secrets, it's hard to know what's true. Then there are the Crystals, a snobbish girls' club, who blackball Wendy because of a dark secret they reveal to Jill. Even Nana seems to be keeping secrets -- with her German friend Ida Wilmar! Who's a friend and who's an enemy?
As German subs torpedo American and Canadian ships off the Maine coast, Jill is anxious for her mother's safety. Her fears are heightened when she finds a wounded pigeon with the message Sonnabend iv attached to its leg! When Nana and Ida Wilmar whisper to each other and Jill hears that same word -- Sonnabend -- she determines to uncover the truth behind the mysteries in Winter Haven. But she soon finds herself in grave danger when she uncovers the biggest secret of all -- and must run for her life!
Based on startling historical events that took place in the harbors of Maine during World War II, Shadows on the Sea is a fast-paced mystery that will keep readers guessing from beginning to end.

Author Notes

Joan Hiatt Harlow is the author of several popular historical novels including Secret of the Night Ponies , Shadows on the Sea , Midnight Rider , Star in the Storm , Joshua's Song , Thunder from the Sea , and Breaker Boy . Ms. Harlow lives in Venice, Florida. For more information, visit her at

Jim Madsen is the illustrator of numerous books for children. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and lives with his wife and kids in Provo, Utah where he enjoys the outdoors, golf, and riding Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7-10. Like Janet Taylor Lisle's The Art of Keeping Cool (2000) and other stories about young people caught up in World War II at home, this novel brings the enemy right into the neighborhood. This time the setting is on the coast of Maine in 1942. Fourteen-year-old Jill is sent to stay with her grandmother. She finds a wounded pigeon carrying a German message, and she and a local boy become caught up in trying to find spies among the townspeople. Who are the secret Nazi sympathizers? Is Nana's German friend a suspect? Who is in touch with the German U-boats that are lurking in the ocean near the coast? The plot is predictable, but Harlow does a good job of combining the war drama with family secrets and vicious prejudice among the local kids. In an afterword she talks about how much of the story of the submarine incursions is true, and readers will find the history as exciting as the fiction. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Browsers drawn to Harlow's (Joshua's Song) WWII home-front novel by the sleek picture of a submarine in crosshairs on the cover might be in for a slight disappointmentthe naval intrigue nestled into the plot doesn't fully emerge until close to the end. Jill Winter must spend the summer of '42 with her grandmother in small-town Maine; her father, a famous pop singer, is on tour, and her mother has taken a dangerous route to Newfoundland to care for her dying brother. Jill immediately makes two friendsWendy, who, as Jill later discovers, is considered a pariah by the community, and Quarry, a salt-of-the-earth country boy. Against the backdrop of Jill's fears about her parents' safety, smaller intrigues play out. What is the purpose of her grandmother's secret Saturday night meetings with a group of women, among them a German? Why is their strange neighbor breeding pigeons (he claims they're for food, but Jill thinks otherwise)? And why are the Crystals, a local girls' clique, so determined to blackball Wendy? Harlow does an excellent job of describing the hardships of war on those back home, when rationing and a heightened sense of caution transform buttering a roll or turning on a light into something significant. Although the dialogue can be wooden and the plotting eventually strains for effect, the novel offers an enjoyable slice-of-life with an overlay of mystery. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8-Jill Winters, 14, has been sent to stay with her grandmother in Maine while her father, a famous singer, is on a U.S. tour and her mother is visiting her dying brother in Newfoundland. It is the summer of 1942, and German U-boats patrol the shores of the North Atlantic. Jill is terrified that her mother's ship will be torpedoed and nervous about the possibility of U-boats in the area. Adding to her worries are the mysterious goings-on in Winter Haven. Even her grandmother is secretive about the Sunday night meetings she has with her friends. When Jill intercepts a carrier pigeon with a message in German, she begins to suspect that someone in the community is guilty of treason, and she has no idea whom to trust. After the town's July 4th clambake, her life is threatened when it becomes clear to the spies that she has figured out their identity. The ending is not neatly tied up and leaves some unanswered questions. Though the novel is largely plot driven, it moves along at an engaging pace, and the author weaves in snippets about World War II and details of teen life during the 1940s.-Cheri Estes Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 2: Scarlett Although it was wartime, the dining car maintained a sense of elegance. Little battery-operated lamps flickered on tables, which were covered with starched white tablecloths and linen napkins. Jill was escorted to a table by a smartly dressed waiter who handed her a menu. A small notice on the menu explained how the Boston & Maine Railroad was attempting to keep the selections varied despite war-rationing restrictions. The meal was paid for in the price of her ticket, so Jill could have whatever she chose. "I'll have a hot turkey sandwich and a pot of tea, please," she told the waiter. Her mother, a Newfoundlander and therefore a British subject, had been brought up with the English custom of having tea every afternoon. There was something about a cup of tea that made Jill feel comfortable and grown-up. While she waited for her order, she gazed around the dining car. Two sailors were joking and laughing at a table in the corner. Across the aisle, a dark-haired gentleman sipped wine and studied the menu. A blast of wind caught Jill's attention as someone opened the door and entered the car. A girl who appeared to be a little older than Jill sauntered down the aisle. She wore a gray dress with a draped bodice and flared skirt, but the wide black diagonal stripes were eye-catching. Her blond hair was smoothly turned into a stylish pageboy and curved prettily at her cheeks. To top it off, this girl was wearing silk stockings! Jill could tell they were silk -- so sheer and smooth. Where did she ever get silk stockings with the war going on? Jill found herself staring, and as the girl turned, looking for a table, their eyes met. Embarrassed, Jill looked quickly down at her hands. The girl stepped over to Jill's table. "Is anyone sitting with you? Would you like some company?" She smiled, one dimple appearing on her right cheek. Jill shrugged and nodded. The newcomer slid into the opposite seat. "I'm on my way to the shore for the summer. I'm from New York. I find the heat in the city quite oppressive, don't you?" "I don't live in the city," Jill answered. "I live outside Boston." "Oh, you're a country girl then?" The stranger removed her white gloves and placed them neatly by her plate. "No, I'm not a country girl," Jill blurted. Did she look like a country girl in her slacks and Dorothy Lamour hairdo? The girl seemed engrossed in the menu. She then gave her order to the waiter who hovered over her, filling her water glass and adjusting the silverware. Jill peered a little closer. Yes, she was wearing a touch of red lipstick -- it was not Tangee. After the stranger ordered a cup of tea and a plate of finger sandwiches, she settled back in her seat and looked out the window. "I hate traveling backward." Jill was not about to switch seats. "Oh, my name is Scarlett," the girl continued. "Like in the movie, Gone With the Wind. Everyone comments on my name. Only my name's Scarlett Jones -- not O'Hara." "I'm Jill Winters." "Where are you going, if you don't mind my asking?" "To the shore," Jill answered. "I'm spending the summer at my grandmother's estate. She owns a gorgeous home by the sea." Jill had never been to Nana's house. Nana had purchased it a few years ago, after Grandfather died. From photographs, Nana's house looked old and comfortable, with a big porch overlooking the ocean. However, it was weather-beaten and certainly not gorgeous. But this girl would never know. "How nice. I'll be managing a tearoom and inn. It's hard to find help with the war on, you know. I'm doing it as a favor to my aunt. She's begged me to come and help her out. I know a lot about publicity and things, since my father is a producer in the film industry." "He is? What film company?" "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Twentieth Century Fox -- all the big ones." "I'll watch for his name on the film credits," Jill said. "Maybe you'll see it. Maybe not. They scroll the names very quickly." Scarlett smoothed her hair. "Daddy has promised to get me an ingenue lead in one of his movies very soon. I study drama at school." Ingenue? Some theatrical term, I suppose, Jill thought, feeling stupid. "Daddy thinks I need a little change away from the theater, so he decided I should come to Maine for the summer. It will also give me a taste of seaside living, since that will be the background of his new movie." The waiter served their dinners together and both girls were quiet as they ate. Out of the corner of her eye, Jill watched Scarlett admiringly. She poured tea from the silver-plated teapot with her little finger pointed straight out. Using tongs, she delicately dropped tiny squares of sugar into her cup. "Sugar?" she asked Jill. "Cream?" "No, thank you." Jill tried cutting her turkey sandwich into smaller pieces, holding her little finger out in the same elegant manner, but it felt awkward and she couldn't get a good grip on her knife. When they were finished, Scarlett patted her lips, then set the napkin on the table. "Now, Jill, tell me about your family." "My father is a singer. Maybe you've heard of him. Drew Winters?" Scarlett's blue eyes widened. "Drew Winters is your father?" "Yes. He's performing in California right now. My mother is traveling...overseas." "Overseas? With the war going on?" "I'm awfully worried about her," Jill said truthfully. Scarlett looked skeptical. She doesn't believe me, Jill thought. Well, I can make this more interesting. "Actually, my mother works for intelligence. She's a spy." Scarlett looked suspiciously at Jill. "If your mother was really a spy, you wouldn't be telling anyone." Jill cleared her throat and lowered her voice. "You're right. Of course, I shouldn't be talking about my mother. I have to be careful. The war, you know." She glanced quickly around and gestured to a poster on the wall that showed the figure of Uncle Sam with a finger to his lips and the words Loose lips sink ships. For a while neither girl spoke. Then Scarlett said, "So your father is Drew Winters and your mother is a spy." Suddenly Jill had no idea what she could possibly say next. Her problem was solved as the conductor walked through the dining car. "We will be arriving in Bangor in five minutes," he announced. Jill got up. "Nice meeting you, Scarlett. Have a good summer." She didn't linger for Scarlett to say good-bye but raced back the length of two cars to her own seat. Then, gathering her luggage together, she waited for the train to stop. "Bangor! Bangor!" came the singsong chant of the conductor as the engines hissed and the brakes squealed. It had stopped raining. The platform of the station hovered in long shadows of the setting sun. Was Nana there? Jill hoped she wouldn't have to hang around in the station of a strange town. Her purse tucked under her arm, Jill wrestled with her luggage. Outside, soot and ashes from the steam engine scattered in the wind. The conductor moved her bags to the station platform. "Thank you," Jill said over the noise. "Jill! Jill!" There was Nana, waving and calling to her. Her blond hair, held back in a fashionable bun, was mixed with silver and shimmered even in the fading sunlight. She wore a white cotton dress and a mint-colored sweater. Jill bounded off the train. "Nana!" she shrieked, throwing herself into her grandmother's embrace. "I'm so glad you're here, safe and sound," Nana said after covering Jill's face with kisses. "We'll have a wonderful time together. Look at how tall you've grown since I last saw you!" She eyed Jill's slacks. "Do your mother and father know you're wearing those pants?" Jill bit her lip. "Um, I bought them after they left," she answered truthfully. "They're very nice for traveling, Nana." "I see." Nana glanced over Jill's shoulder. "Oh, there's Wendy Taylor! I met her last year when she visited her aunt, Adrie Dekker. My, she's turned into quite a young lady, too. Wendy!" she called. "Come meet my granddaughter, Jill." Jill whirled around and found herself staring into the flushed face of Scarlett Jones. Copyright © 2003 by Joan Hiatt Harlow Excerpted from Shadows on the Sea by Joan Hiatt Harlow All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.