Across the Wide Dark Sea Vocabulary

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

A little boy and his family are traveling to a new land in ''Across the Wide Dark Sea.'' As we read their story of a trip to an ''unknown'' land, knowing more about the vocabulary terms can help us travel with them. This lesson will look a bit more at those terms.

Traveling Toward the Unknown

Have you ever moved to a different town, state, or even country? Moving somewhere new can be hard. We have to make new friends and learn our way around a new place. But can you imagine if you were moving to a place where nobody else lived yet? That is exactly what the narrator in Jean Van Leeuwen's Across the Wide Dark Sea is doing. Along with his family and almost a hundred other people, the little boy is traveling to an ''unknown land'' looking for a place they can ''worship God in our own way.''

In the Author's Note, Van Leeuwen tells us the book is sharing the story of Love Brewster. Love was a little boy who traveled on the Mayflower and was one of the first settlers in Plymouth Plantation. Nowadays, we might have a hard time picturing most of what those early settlers went through. But as we read Van Leeuwen's story, knowing what some of the vocabulary terms mean can help us to think about what the little boy and his family went through. Let's learn some of these definitions, as found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Vocabulary Terms

Anchor - Heavy piece of equipment that is part of a boat. The anchor is connected to the boat by a rope or chain.

An anchor helps a ship stay still. When a ship is ready to start sailing, the anchor is pulled up. When it is ready to stop, the anchor is let down.

Fluttered - Moved rapidly - so quickly that the object almost seems to weigh nothing.

Lots of the times, we think of a bird's or a butterfly's wings with the word ''fluttered'' because they move very quickly and lightly. But other things can flutter, too. For instance, a flag might flutter in a breeze.

Journey - Taking a trip, traveling, or moving to a new place.

Usually, we think a journey is traveling a long distance. In Across the Wide Dark Sea, the people take a ship across the entire ocean - a long journey that takes them around 9 weeks.

Furl - Wrapping or winding something, like a cloth, tightly around something else.

During a storm, or when a ship is stopped, the sails are furled, or closed. If they were not furled, then the sail could still catch wind, and that could break the ship.

Seeping - When a substance leaks slowly through a small crack or opening in an object.

If a glass has a small leak in it, the water inside might not pour out. Instead, it might be seeping, or leaking out slowly.

Worship - Offering love, praise, and belief in a god through prayer. Often happens in a group setting with others who share similar faith.

In America now, we have many religions and different places to practice those religions. But this was not always the case. The people in the story were looking for a home where they could ''worship God in their own way.''

Lurked - Hiding or sneaking about secretively.

Usually, when something is lurking, it is hiding because it doesn't want to be seen. Sometimes, it is hiding because it wants to hurt whatever it is hiding from. Other times, something might be lurking because it is afraid to come out of hiding.

Settlement - New village or town.

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