Starpath Publications

Young Readers Books

John Dowd

Starpath School of Navigation

John Dowd lives a life of adventure and this is reflected in his children’s books. After leaving his native New Zealand he traveled the world for fifteen years working as a freelance writer and photographer, commercial diver (in the North Sea), Outward Bound instructor and safari tour operator. He specialized in sea kayaking, mounting expeditions through Indonesia, Chile, and the Caribbean.

In 1976 he married Canadian-born Beatrice and in 1978 they moved to British Columbia where they founded Ecomarine, the world’s first specialty sea kayak shop, and Sea Kayaker magazine, while they raised their two children, Dylan and Olympia. Currently Bea and John live on a remote west coast island where John represents Sealegs, an upmarket amphibious boat, while Beatrice creates sculptures with beach-found objects.

His classic text Sea Kayaking - A Manual for Long-Distance Touring is considered by many as the pivotal text that launched the sport of sea kayaking, worldwide.

John Dowd
-Jim and Julia's Adventures at Sea-
Abalone Summer
Abalone Summer Book Cover

Twelve-year-old Jim Martin has become confused and self-destructive in the years since his father's death in a car crash. Hoping to turn things around, Mom arranges for him to spend the summer with George, a family friend, on a fishing boat at the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia, along with the boat's owner, Andreas, and his 10-year-old daughter, Julia. Jim quickly learns about boating, kayaking, and scuba diving, and soon he and Julia are exploring the lush nearby islands on their own. They discover not only a hidden fishing boat whose owners are involved in abalone poaching, but also a shed filled with the frozen seafood. In a dramatic conclusion, they set a trap to capture the poachers, with assistance from the Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Dowd's attention to local color, superb knowledge of kayaking, and gripping sense of adventure are real strengths that will make this page-turner popular with young adventure fans.

Arthur Ellis Award for best Canadian juvenile crime novel.

  • ebook (Starpath forthcoming): $2.99
  • Total Pages: 139
  • Size: 5 x 8
Hogsty Reef

Jim has the adventure of his life when he becomes stranded with a young Haitian refugee on Hogsty Reef, a small island. Unfortunately for the boys the island has other visitors, who are engaged in an illegal drug trade. This story has many facets to it: danger, adventure, family issues, relationships, ecological concerns, political problems, survival, drug wars, and governmental concerns. It will appeal to young readers of both sexes. -Kliatt

This interesting, well-written story becomes exciting with elements of adventure and suspense... Readers who enjoyed Theodore Taylor's The Cay will like this contemporary island tale. -VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

There is lots of action, an exotic location, and the thrill of underlying danger. Young adults will enjoy Jim's hair raising adventures and learn quite a lot about reefs. -Bookselling This Week

Awarded: ABA Pick of the Lists -American Booksellers Association 1999

  • Paperback (from Peachtree Publications): $5.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-561451-87-6
  • Total Pages: 187
  • Size: 5 x 7 1/8
Rare and Endangered

This riveting narrative delivers adventure, suspense, and realistic characters while sending an important message about environmental conservation.

In this sequel to Hogsty Reef, teenagers Jim and Julia reunite in the Turks and Caicos Islands to work in a research station studying endangered wildlife. While on the island, these two inquisitive youngsters become involved in the search for a missing naturalist. But this quest leads them directly into the hands of poachers who have ravaged the island's precious fauna and intend to sell them in the black market of endangered and threatened animals.

Jim, Julia, and their new friend Miles are caged with the animals and flown to the Dominican Republic just as a hurricane blows in. How will they escape their captors and the deadly storm? Will they be able to stop the poaching operation?

With one eye on a twisting and turning plot line and the other on a message concerning the importance of conservation and ecological balance, John Dowd will teach and delight readers.

  • Paperback (from Peachtree Publications): $5.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-561452-17-0
  • Total Pages: 169
  • Size: 5 x 7 1/8
Haitian Pick-Up

Haitian Pick-Up Book Cover

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Haitian Pick-Up takes up the story when Marcel, the Haitian refugee boy who shared Jim and Julia's adventures on Hogsty Reef, returns to Bottle Creek research station. He brings the unsettling news that his brother, whose whereabouts was previously unknown after he had been taken into custody for political activism in Haiti, had been found alive in a military prison in Port au Prince. The operation to spring the brother from jail takes place during the time of the military dictatorship after the popular politician Jean Aristide is forced from power. A United Nations blockade is in force as pressure mounts on the military to relinquish control. This is a book of high adventure, set in disturbing times where the norms of what is right and what is necessary are challenged. It is also an authentic, hard core boating adventure.

  • ebook (Starpath): $2.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-914025-29-0
  • Total Pages: 93
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 7 1/2


-Northwest Wilderness Adventures-
Ring of Tall Trees
Ring of Tall Trees Book Cover

In a mystical grove of Northwest old-growth cedars, Dylan receives an important message from a Native spirit. Almost immediately, he and his family are swept up in controversy, as a logging company plans to clear-cut the trees despite Natives' claims to the land. Dylan and his friends—Native boys and loggers' children—struggle to understand this complex environmental issue, and the exciting climax of the story reveals the wisdom of children and their ability to effect change.

"A truly suspenseful story that mixes Northwest Indian lore with a present-day struggle to save an ancient forest. Compassionately written, this story tells both sides of a controversial issue . . . surprisingly showing that everyone can eventually work together to save our environment."
-Gloria Rand, author of Salty Dog and Prince William

"An inspired saga . . . Dowd's weaving of Native and Northwest legends gives us hope for the future of generations nurtured by these ancient trees."
-Brenda Peterson, author of Living by Water and Nature and Other Mothers

  • ebook (Starpath forthcoming): $2.99
  • Total Pages: 126
  • Size: 5 x 8
Elk in the Field
Elk in the Field Book Cover

Elk In The Field tells the story of a city family that moves to the country and works with a native community to develop a creative solution to the problem of elk, whose winter range has been destroyed by logging, moving onto farmland and destroying orchards and crops. It is told through the eyes of ten year old Dylan and his seven year old sister Olympia. With many of the same cast as A Ring Of Tall Trees, it is a winter adventure that tackles some very real rural and urban wildlife conflicts. It is appropriate for the pre-teen reader.

  • ebook (Starpath forthcoming): $2.99
  • Total Pages: 126
  • Size: 5 x 8