The Submarine Outlaw series has an original and appealing central concept: young Alfred pilots his unregistered submarine wherever he likes, with a seagull for a first mate and a dog for a second. He gets into trouble because he can’t resist rescuing people (and animals) and so is always barely evading capture by the authorities, who will take his submarine away from him. Thus Alfred is firmly a good guy and yet still an outlaw—an irresistible combination!
In Ghosts of the Pacific, Alfred sails from Newfoundland through the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. He encounters polar bears and gets trapped in the ice. In the Pacific he gets shot at by a shrimp trawler when he cuts their net to release trapped turtles and dolphins. He rides out a storm, meets a floating circus and sails into a sea of plastic garbage the size of Texas. He visits the Bikini Atoll and dives to see the ships sunk by nuclear testing. Then he ends up on the island of Saipan, where he hides in an underwater cave during a typhoon and discovers the skeletons of Japanese soldiers. Alfred considers an offer to join the circus, but decides he’s not finished sailing alone yet. There will be a sequel!
I think these would be great books for reluctant readers. The language is clear and simple, the plot is full of exciting episodes--and come on: submarines! I usually veer towards fantasy (you may have noticed!), but I found these books completely engaging. Plus I learned stuff!