Abigail Adams, Pirate of the Caribbean, is a chapter book in the Time Twisters series by award-winning author Steve Sheinkin about what happens when a famous First Lady tires of life in the White House. Also check out Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler!
WARNING: DO NOT BELIEVE THE STORY YOU’RE ABOUT TO READ.
Well, you can believe some of it. There is some real history. But also hijinks. Time travel. And famous figures setting off on adventures that definitely never happenedtill now. Time is getting twisted, and it’s up to two kids to straighten things out.
Abraham Lincoln may have returned to history books, but other historical figures saw what he didand now they know they can escape from their times, too. When Abigail Adams decides there’s more to life than doing chores in the White House, she joins a crew of Caribbean pirates! Can siblings Abby and Doc set history straight? Or will they be the ones who need to be rescued?
This title has Common Core Connections.
About the Author
Steve Sheinkin is the acclaimed author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers, including The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights; The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery; Bomb: The Race to Buildand Stealthe World's Most Dangerous Weapon; Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War; and Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team. His accolades include a Newbery Honor, three Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, a Sibert Medal, and three National Book Award finalist honors. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and two children.
Neil Swaab is a New York City–based illustrator, designer, and author. His work has graced the covers and interiors of numerous books for children including the New York Times bestseller Big Fat Liar by James Patterson and Neil's own series, The Secrets to Ruling School. He has also animated for TV an enjoys teaching at Parsons School of Design.
Read an Excerpt
"This place is a disaster," Abigail Adams said. "Look at this."
She made her mouth into the shape of an O and puffed out a cloud of frosty fog.
"It is chilly in here," John Adams agreed, rubbing his hands together. "Not quite ready to be lived in, perhaps."
It was November 1800 in the new capital city of Washington. Abigail and John Adams were standing in a huge, empty room in the President's House — soon to be known as the White House. They had just moved in, but John was right. The house was far from ready.
Only six of the thirty-six rooms were finished. The walls had wide gaps that still needed plaster. There was a second floor — but no staircase to it. Even with fires burning in every fireplace, the air inside was damp and bone-chilling.
John Adams pulled on his overcoat. "Well, I'd best be off," he said. "I'm meeting with Mr. Jefferson this afternoon. I'll leave you to your work."
"Hanging laundry," Abigail groaned. "Yet again."
"What's that, dear?"
"That's my work today, hanging wet clothes up to dry," she said.
"Oh, good," John said. "I'm out of clean stockings."
Wet pants and dresses hung from strings stretched across the room. It wasn't a great place to dry clothes, but the only other option was the yard, which was knee-deep mud.
Abigail snatched a shirt from a large laundry basket. "I hung laundry in the East Room of the White House." She tossed the shirt toward a string. It missed and landed on the floor. "That's what people know about me."
"Who are you talking to, dear?"
"You," she said. "The children reading this. Anyone who will listen."
John Adams turned toward the readers — he looked right at YOU.
Oh, hello, he said.
Then he buttoned his coat.
"History books describe you as a brave patriot, a leader in Congress during the American Revolution." Abigail grabbed a pair of pants from the basket. "And now you're the second president of the United States. But what do they say about me? Cute little 'fun facts.' I was the first First Lady to live in the White House. And I hung laundry to dry in the East Room. As if women can do nothing better than wash clothing! How very amusing!"
She threw the pants over her shoulder. They landed on her husband's head.
"Well, um ..." John said, pulling the wet pants from his face. "I shouldn't keep the vice president waiting."
"If I have to hang laundry one more time, I am going to scream!" Abigail said, sort of screaming. "Did you know there were women pirates?"
"Pirates? Where?" John said, looking around.
"Back in the early 1700s, in what's called the Golden Age of pirates in the Caribbean. Some of the most famous pirates were women. Anne Bonny, Mary Read ..."
"Dear, what are you telling me? That you wish to become a pirate?"
"I'm telling you women can do anything," Abigail said. "I've been trying to tell you for years. I suppose I shall have to prove it to you. I won't be gone long. Give my regards to Mr. Jefferson."
President Adams seemed confused. Also a bit worried.
But he left for his meeting.
Abigail Adams stood alone in the East Room, staring at the laundry basket.
"I wonder if it would really work?" she said. "Only one way to find out."
She ran across the room, jumped, and sailed into the basket.
And she was gone.
"Okay guys, it's that time again," Ms. Maybee told her fourth-grade class. "That moment you lie awake at night dreaming about! Yes, you guessed it — it's time to get out your history textbooks!"
Most of the kids groaned.
"Don't give me that," Ms. Maybee said, laughing. "You thought Abraham Lincoln was going to be boring, right? And look how much fun he turned out to be!"
That was true. The class did like Abe Lincoln.
"Well, today we meet another great American," Ms. Maybee told the class. "One of my personal favorites: Abigail Adams!"
I've heard of her! Doc said.
Kids looked at Doc, stunned. He used to complain louder than anyone when it was time to learn history.
"Good for you, Doc," said Ms. Maybee. "And what can you tell us about her? What is Abigail Adams famous for?"
Doc looked to Abby, his stepsister, hoping for help.
"I could tell you," Doc said. "But won't it be more fun if we all learn together?"
Ms. Maybee smiled. "In other words, you have no idea."
"Not a clue," Doc said.
"We'll learn together then," Ms. Maybee said, pointing to the textbook on Doc's desk. "Page sixty-five, right at the top."
All the kids opened their books to page sixty-five. The heading said:
Abigail Adams in the White House
There was a painting of the city of Washington in the early 1800s. The White House was there, but not much else — just fields and trees.
Doc began to read aloud:
"Very funny," Ms. Maybee said. "Only, please note that I'm not actually laughing."
"What'd I do?" Doc asked.
"Just read what the book says."
"I am," Doc said.
"He is," Abby said.
Other kids nodded. All their books said the same thing.
Ms. Maybee checked her copy of the book. "Huh, you're right. I'm sorry, Doc, please continue."
"Keep reading, Doc!" someone called from the back of the room.
Doc turned to the next page. "That's all it says about her."
"Where'd she go?" another kid asked.
"Did she become a pirate?"
"I don't know," Ms. Maybee said. "I mean, I'm glad you're all so excited about history. But I have to tell you, I don't remember this story at all."
Because this story had never happened before. It's not how history was supposed to go.
Doc and Abby looked at each other. "Oh, no," Abby whispered.
About three years before this story takes place, Abby's mom had married Doc's dad. And everyone got along, mostly. That was the good part. The bad part was that both parents worked late. Abby's mom (by now Doc called her "mom" too) was a teacher at their school and ran an after-school program for younger kids. Their dad taught at the middle school and stayed late to coach track. So every day, after school, Abby and Doc had to stick around for an hour, until their mom was ready to leave. They were supposed to sit in the storage room behind the library, reading or doing homework.
The storage room was small and cramped, with bookshelves and stacks of boxes. There were two chairs and a table and one window. And there was a tall cardboard box that was some kind of time machine.
Other than that, it was a pretty normal room.
Abby was at the table when Doc walked in.
"Any sign of him?" Doc asked.
"Abraham Lincoln?" Abby said. "No. I was hoping he'd be here."
"Yeah," Doc said. "We need to talk to him."
"You think he knows? About Abigail Adams disappearing from the White House?"
"I bet he does. Those history guys all know each other."
A few days before, Abraham Lincoln had jumped out of the tall cardboard box. Really, more like fallen out. Anyway, he'd come to say he was sick of kids' complaining about history — he said it hurt his feelings. He'd decided to quit history and become a pro wrestler. It hadn't exactly worked out, and Doc and Abby had convinced him to go back to doing what he was supposed to do.
But other people from history saw what Lincoln did. They realized they didn't have to do the same old things over and over, either. So now history was broken. Or very mixed up at least.
Doc and Abby had promised Lincoln they would help fix it. But how?
Doc stepped over to the cardboard box. It was as tall as he was. He opened one of the top flaps and got up on tiptoes to look in.
"Nope, no Lincoln," Doc said. "Just a few textbooks. And a piece of paper." Doc tilted the box toward the window to let in more light. "Looks like a note."
He crawled in and got the note.
Dear Abby and Doc,
I stopped by this morning, hoping to see you. As you have no doubt realized by now, Abigail Adams is missing. It is quite possible that she has become a pirate. Can you please take care of this? I'd handle it myself, but I'm too busy training for my next wrestling match. Just kidding! I'm actually packing to leave for Washington. Mrs. Lincoln sends her greetings.
Doc set the box upright. He stepped onto a chair, then onto a table, then up onto a tall stack of boxes.
"What are you doing?" Abby asked.
"You heard the man," Doc said. "We have to take care of this."
"But wait, let's think for a second," Abby said. "We don't even know how the box works."
"We know how it worked last time," Doc said. "We jumped in, and boom! We appeared in, you know, history."
"But it might not —"
"So now we'll go back to Washington in 1800," Doc said. "Find Abigail Adams, fix everything, and be back in time for soccer."
Abby didn't think it would be that simple.
"Look," Doc said, "do you want to fix history or do homework?"
Before Abby could answer, Doc jumped. He soared across the room, hit the top flaps of the box feet first, fell through — and disappeared without a sound.
Abby got up and looked in the box.
Nothing down there but a few history textbooks.
"Hold on," Abby said, climbing onto the wobbly stack of boxes.
Doc stood up and brushed dirt off his pants. Abby plopped down a few feet away.
"See," Doc said. "Told you it would work."
They were on the side of a muddy road. There were fields, with clumps of trees here and there. And a few half-finished buildings.
In the distance was a building that looked like the picture in their history textbook.
"The White House," Abby said, pointing.
YOU THERE! a man shouted.
The man was coming toward them, waving. He was average height, a little round around the middle, about sixty-five years old. He was bald except for a puff of white curls above each ear.
"Have you seen Mrs. Adams?" he asked.
"No, sorry," Doc said, "but we just got here. I'm Doc. This is Abby."
"Ah, yes, Abraham Lincoln's friends, the ones who broke history," the man said, shaking their hands.
"Where's your wig?" Doc asked.
"Excuse me, young man?"
"You know," Doc said. "In paintings, you always have that wig. All white, with the funny curls at the bottom."
"I despise that thing," John Adams said. "I wear it to look fancy, but it itches like poison ivy!"
"So how is it being president?" Doc asked. "Pretty fun?"
"It's awful," John moaned. "No matter what I do, people complain. I'll never be reelected."
"Um, guys," Abby said. "Shouldn't we be looking for Abigail Adams?"
"Ah, Abigail, my wonderful wife, my dearest friend," John said.
"She sounds awesome," Abby said.
"Did you know," John said, "when a woman gets married, everything she owns becomes her husband's property. Everything. To do with as he wishes. That's the law."
"No way," Abby said.
"It's true," said the president. "Abigail has often urged me to make laws that are more fair to women. If only I'd listened! We have to find her!"
"We will, we will," Abby said.
"She talked about becoming a pirate, right?" Doc said. "So she'll need to get on a boat. Where's the nearest port?"
"Just down the road here," John said.
They hurried toward the Potomac River. And they had the right idea, but they were looking in the wrong place.
And the wrong time.
At that exact moment, Abigail Adams was on the Caribbean island of Cuba. In the year 1720.
She walked along a waterfront street lined with shops and inns. The sun beat down, and she was starting to cook in her long, heavy dress. She stopped outside a tavern called The Spy-Glass, listening to the lively shouts and songs coming from inside.
Abigail Adams pushed open the door.
It was dark inside, compared with the bright street. Abigail stood in the doorway, blinking.
The singing stopped. Dozens of men turned and stared at the stranger.
Abigail cleared her throat. "Good day, gentlemen," she began. "I was hoping someone here might be able to tell me where I can meet a pirate."
The room was silent. For several long seconds.
And then the place exploded in laughter.
A minute later, Abigail sat at a tiny table in the corner of the tavern. The place was again filled with singing and laughter. Across the table sat Anne Bonny, the most feared female pirate of the Caribbean. Bonny was tall and strong, with long red hair. She wore pants and a man's shirt, but was not hiding the fact that she was a woman.
"First off, don't call us pirates," said Bonny. "We prefer 'gentlemen of fortune.'"
"My apologies," Abigail Adams said.
"You know what they do to pirates, right? Heard of Captain Kidd?"
"Hanged, wasn't he?" Abigail asked.
"Hanged, mate, by the Thames River in London," Bonny said. "And they left his body up there to rot as an example to others. Swayed in the breeze a year and more, till the birds picked his bones clean. Sure you don't want some rum?"
Bonny lifted her mug and took a swig. A man stumbled past, swaying into Bonny's elbow, splashing rum all over the table.
Bonny stood, grabbed the man by his shirt, and threw him face-first into the wall.
"So you were asking about joining a ship?" Bonny said, sitting back down. "We're sailing tonight. Always need men."
"What about women?"
"Women aboard ships is bad luck, sailors say."
"How silly," Abigail said.
"Aye, but you can win 'em over," Bonny said.
"Start out as a man," Bonny said. "In disguise, like. Till they see you can fight. That's what I did." She drained her mug and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "The Revenge is our ship. Just ask for Captain Rackham."
"Tell us again," Abby said. "When did you see her last?"
Abby, Doc, and John Adams were in the East Room of the White House. They'd looked for Abigail Adams all over town. No luck.
"This morning. She was hanging clothes to dry," John said, pointing to the shirts and stockings hanging all over the room. The empty laundry basket sat by the wall. "All of a sudden, she starts talking about pirates. Something about Anne Bonny and the Golden Age of Caribbean pirates."
"The Golden Age, that's way before now," Doc said. "The early 1700s, I think. Dad got me that pirate book, remember?"
Doc and Abby's dad was a history teacher. He was always bringing home history books.
"Yeah," Abby said. "I remember how shocked we were that you actually read it."
"Well, it was good," Doc said. "Not boring, like history usually is."
"Excuse me?" John Adams said. "Boring?"
"Sorry, sometimes it's good," Doc said. "Is it always so cold in here?"
"I'm afraid so," John said. "What's your sister doing?" Abby had suddenly started yanking clothes off the strings, tossing them onto the floor.
"I need to clear a path to the basket," she said.
"Careful with those stockings!" John cried. "I was going to wear those tomorrow."
Abby threw the stockings to John. "The cardboard box works in our storage room, right?" she said.
"Right," Doc said. "Maybe the basket works here."
Abby backed up across the room. She crouched down, like she was about to start a race.
"Okay, um, Basket," Abby said. "I want to find Abigail Adams. I don't know exactly where she is, but if you could take me there, that would be great. Thanks."
She burst into a sprint, jumped high, and flew into the laundry basket.
"Yes!" Doc cheered.
John Adams looked in the basket. It was empty. He lifted it. Nothing underneath but solid floor.
"Would you put that down, Mr. President?" Doc asked. "I'm gonna need to jump in."
Abby landed softly on a Caribbean beach. Gentle waves of blue-green water broke on the white sand. At a nearby wharf, sailors sang as they loaded goods onto a wooden ship.
Doc came down next to Abby.
"Looks right," she said, standing up.
"It's not Washington, anyway," Doc said. "How do we find her?"
"I don't know. Let's look around."
Abby helped Doc up, and they walked along the waterfront street. As they passed a rope workshop, men looked up and stared.
"I guess we do look kind of weird," Abby said.
"Not me," Doc said.
"Our clothes, I mean."
The door of The Spy-Glass tavern opened, and Anne Bonny stepped out.
"Not Abigail Adams," Abby said after Bonny had walked past.
Then a short, gray-haired woman in a long dress came out.
"Could be her," Abby said.
The woman walked along the street, looking in shop windows. She went into a clothing store.
And came out five minutes later in men's clothing — pants and tall boots and a shirt that was way too big. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail.
Excerpted from "Abigail Adams, Pirate of the Caribbean"
Copyright © 2018 Steve Sheinkin.
Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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