Dragons in the Waters

Thirteen-year-old Simon Renier has no idea when he boards the M.S. Orion with his cousin Forsyth Phair that their journey to Venezuela will be a dangerous one. His original plan—to return a family heirloom, a portrait of Simon Bolivar, to its rightful place—is sidetracked when cousin Forsyth is found murdered. When the portrait is stolen, all passengers and crew are suspects. Simon’s newfound friends, Poly and Charles O’Keefe, and their scientist father help Simon try to find his painting, and his cousin’s murderer. But will they succeed before they land? Or will the murderer and thief escape into the jungles of Venezuela?

Originally published in 1976.

Genre: Middle grade

Other Books in the Series

Dragons in the Waters

Audio Excerpt


“On board the freighter Orion sailing for Venezuela are Polly, Charles, and their scientist father, Dr. O’Keefe, along with Simon Renier and his uncle Forsyth Phair, an assortment of intriguing travelers, and a small crew.”
—Booklist, Starred Review

“Madeleine L’Engle tackles another genre-bending children’s book. It’s basically a locked-room murder mystery on a boat that includes science, history, religion, extra-sensory understanding, smuggling, jungle survival, capitalist environmental destruction, a respect for different cultures, and the phrase “‘preprandial libations.’”
—Hans, Goodreads, 2017

“Imaginative and engaging. Could not put it down.”
—Susan F., Amazon, 2015