Boats and trains, Dams and bridges, Engineered to work…or fail.
An overloaded Mississippi River steamboat explodes, killing 1169 Union prisoners heading home from notorious Andersonville Prison, making barely a ripple in the newspapers during the closing weeks of the Civil War.
Ignoring local geological conditions led to terrible loss of life and property as the St. Francis Dam burst in California in 1928, as did Italy’s Vajont Dam in 1963.
A hurricane killed many workers building the railroad to Key West in 1935, then sabotage derailed a new Streamliner train into a desert river in 1939, far from the nearest town.
Each of these harrowing stories includes fateful choices made and their unintended consequences, victims and first responder heroes, and the professional heroes who analyzed the catastrophe and recommended ways to prevent future disasters.
Reaction to these tragedies resulted in stronger safety requirements for the modern marvels of public works and transportation that we now take for granted.
From the author of Compassionate Soldier (recommended here) and Invisible Heroes of World War II (see here) who so ably centers the human factor amid history’s facts and lists.
Winter winds moan across the shipwreck just off the pier and whip snow through Eerie-On-Sea’s cobbled streets, as Violet bursts into Herbie’s office and demands to no longer be lost.
The young Lost-and-Founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel hides the girl from his ever-angry hotel manager and a sea captain who stabs his boat-hook hand through wooden trunks seeking her!
Her parents vanished from this hotel and left infant Violet behind 12 years ago – will Herbie help her find them?
An Eerie Book Dispensary postcard is her main clue – will its mechanical monkey prescribe a book for Violet with more information?
A writer in town says that her father’s research on the Malamander was inaccurate – why is he trying to find the unpublished manuscript?
Someone (or something) is attacking those who dare ask questions about the legendary Malamander fish-man, and the two orphaned young teens must connect all the story-threads before they are the next victims!
Just published in the US yesterday, Malamander is first in a series set in this creepy English town filled with memorable characters.
What local legends do your friends tell stories about? **kmm
Snatched from his fishing waters by a factory-fishing-ship,
Adrift on the wide ocean in such a small boat,
the old man sees land ahead – but which land?
When he doesn’t return that night to their small coastal town, the fisherman’s wife goes searching for him, consulting the marine authorities, a soothsayer, and her own heart.
Join them on this wordless adventure/voyage/love story with scary and hilarious sidetrips!
Are you ready to travel to recover someone or something that you love?
Book info: The Sea of Love / Wilfrid Lupano; illustrated by Gregory Panaccione. Lion Forge, 2018. [artist site] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A Breton fisherman’s daily routine goes awry when his small boat is entangled by a mega-trawler, sending him on a trans-oceanic adventure far beyond his familiar French coastal waters in this near-wordless graphic novel.
Paddling the life raft to their village, the first mate tells the fisherman’s distraught wife that the huge ship Goldfish has taken the old man away!
How will he survive stormy seas and angry seagulls?
Can she get word to the captain of Goldfish to help her husband?
If the vision in the pancake is correct, he is safe, but how to get there?
Love and devotion, Brittany’s traditional lacemaking, tropical island and revolution, cans of sardines (oh, how he loathes sardines…) – over 200 pages of mishaps, persistence, and waves for miles make this story a keeper.
My book talk: In a heartbeat’s time, her little sister Miki is stolen away by the feared Ice Sea Pirates, so 10-year-old Siri races to save her from Captain Whitehead’s deadly diamond mines on a secret island.
How can she follow the pirate ship Snow Raven when adults won’t help?
Why are only children used to mine diamonds?
Can she rescue Miki before the seas freeze over?
This Swedish tale in translation is filled with adventure and daring, as Siri risks her life and safety to bring Miki back to their grieving father, to their snug fishers’ cottage where a tiny piece of mermaid’s tail decorates the wall.
As the river-gods sing, boats are safe on the river,
but they aren’t singing to her yet…
will they deny her?
Following in her father’s footsteps should be easy, but Caro hasn’t been Gifted yet, months and months past time. She will have to captain their boat anyway, and the dangers are more than just sandbars and river pirates now!
What has come to you later than you expected?
Book info: Song of the Current / Sarah Tolcser. Bloomsbury, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: By carrying a secret cargo aboard her family’s river wherry to a seaport, Caro hopes to save her father from unjust imprisonment, but the teen soon finds the crate in her boat’s hold is worth more than mere gold and may cost her life!
Soon, the river gods will sing in Caro’s blood, as they’ve done in all the Oresteia wherry captains in her family’s long history… long overdue, but perhaps soon.
The country’s ruler demands that a heavy crate go now to a sea island, and it falls to Caro and crewmember Fee to take it, out of the safe bends of the river, away from the pirates also seeking it, onto the too-deep ocean waters.
Forbidden to open the crate, Caro does…
Seeking assistance from her mother’s family, Caro dares…
Believing this strange young man’s outlandish story, Caro risks…
The fates of two nations collide on a quiet riverbank, as a young woman who wants only to captain her wherry must travel further than she ever dreamed and face dangers she never imagined in order to save her father’s life and find justice amid webs of political intrigue and glimmers of love. (followed by Whisper of the Tide, May 2018)
If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…
When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?
Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.
Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.
Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?
A singer with no more voice,
a young mermaid expert ignored,
a dutiful son without a plan B…
No surgical procedure can ever restore Elyse’s voice, but time spent with the funny (cousin and her outspoken BFF), the darling (mermaid-obsessed young Sebastian), and the heartbreaker (Christian does what??) may start the healing of her musical soul.
Ockler writes of another summer of enormous changes in The Book of Broken Hearts (my recommendation here).
If your greatest talent/gift/strength were taken away forever, how would you cope?
Book info: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids / Sarah Ockler. Simon Pulse, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: After a boat accident robs Elyse of her singing voice, she lands in her aunt’s tiny Oregon town where the Trinidadian teen finds herself falling for the wrong guy and caring too much about the shady mayor’s big plans.
Leaving her twin sister in Tobago was so hard, but staying to watch Natalie continue the singing career which had been theirs together was impossible.
The warm Caribbean stole her voice; perhaps the chilly Pacific currents can heal her soul. But if Elyse ignores her cousin’s warnings about heart-breaker Christian or helps the summer guy’s little brother search for mermaids, the sea may try to claim her forever.
A bet between the mayor and Christian’s dad puts Aunt Lemon’s home and gallery in jeopardy, as whichever son wins the Pirate’s Regatta will win the property it stands on.
Will the mayor’s desire for money turn off-the-beaten-path Atargatis Cove into just another tourist town?
Can Christian and Elyse rebuild his sailboat in time for the regatta?
Can Elyse face down her fear of being on the water again and help him win?
Of course, sweet little Sebastian should be able march in the Mermaid Parade, and the property developers must be stopped, and Elyse should decide if she can afford to lose her heart… (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Why would 13-year-old Josh want to be at school when he could be nestled into an almost-cave on the rocky seashore, wondering when his dad will come back again from his cargo ship voyages, when his strange cousin will move out, when anything in his life will make sense?
As his own translator from the Icelandic, Erlings captures this teen boy’s voice and ever-circling worries perfectly. Listen to the first three minutes of the novel here, as Josh wakes up on his thirteenth birthday and finds his long-traveling father’s gift.
What would you do with a stuffed falcon, staring at you from its tree branch perch those black eyes?
Book info: Fish in the Sky / Fridrik Erlings; translated from Icelandic by the author. Candlewick Press, 2012. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My Book Talk: A stuffed falcon? That’s what Dad sent Josh from the ocean freighter for his 13th birthday? Yet another thing that’s not understandable in his universe, like why the girls allow themselves to be chased at recess or how no one stands up to the bullies who throw underwear in the showers after PE or why Mom lets his 17-year-old girl cousin move in with them.
She’s in trouble back home, this Trudy, and Josh is sure that it won’t be better at his house with her here. Mom has transformed his huge walk-in closet into Trudy’s room, so this girl who’s practically a stranger has to walk through his room to get anywhere!
School is even worse than being home: the agony of morning math with the headmaster, the giggling girls who send knowing looks but never walk with him during break time, the torture of PE class and the mean locker-room monitor and the bullies who pick on everyone different than them.
Josh decides that he’s learned enough for now and forges a series of excuse notes to stay away from seventh grade; if Mom weren’t so busy with two jobs, she’d do it, right?
How will Josh and Peter work on their film about falcons with Trudy barging in all the time?
And a growing guy needs his sleep; doesn’t that girl ever turn down her music?
Wait, it’s too quiet in Trudy’s space – has she snuck out after promising mom that she’d behave?
Dad’s calling from shore – why isn’t he on the cargo ships, like always?<
The confusion of becoming a teen and trying to understand other people wanders through Josh’s days and dreams in this coming-of-age novel, translated from the Icelandic by the author.
Fitting in at high school is rarely easy,
but when you start breaking out (with barnacles),
and the cute new girl asks you to demonstrate your skills,
of course Teen Boat will transform into a small yacht,
right there in the high school hallway!
Ignatz Award winners Dave Roman (writer – you remember his 2011 Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity graphic novel) and John Green (illustrator) have finally published their popular webcomic in a full-color hardcover edition, including over 30 pages of new story. Don’t miss the “how we did it” section in the back of the book, detailing the creative team’s writing and illustrating process.
My Book Talk: Sure, every high school guy has some worries, but not every guy can transform into Teen Boat! When cute foreign exchange student Niña Pinta Santa Maria arrives, TB wants to impress her, so he agrees to help Harry by becoming a yacht for his party. TB’s longtime pal Joey (the girl next door) warns him that the big jock is only using him for some shady scheme, but the infatuated young man/boat doesn’t listen.
Offshore gambling, the Totally Pirates (seeking the legendary Tiene Bōt), and an iceberg attack make Harry’s party more memorable than TB would have liked. After-school detention, emergency rescue, student elections, and a part-time job all become adventures when Teen Boat is involved. Just imagine what the Yacht Club field trip to Venice, Italy, is like with this crew!
Will Teen Boat ever get over his paralyzing fear of entering a “land vessel” long enough to get his driver’s license?
Will he ever find the girl or boat or girl/boat who will love him?
Will the pirates ever stop chasing after him?
“The angst of being a teen – the thrill of being a boat” jumps off the pages of this graphic novel in vivid color, with new pages extending the webcomic storyline and an informative appendix that shows the step-by-step collaborative process that Roman and Green used in creating this sharply clever graphic novel. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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