My Ocean Liner: Across the North Atlantic on the Great Ship Normandie

Peter Mandel, Author, Betsey MacDonald, Illustrator, John Maxtone-Graham, Introduction by Stemmer House Publishers $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-88045-149-9
Part travelogue, part nostalgic ramble through the heyday of great ocean liners, this story shoehorns a fair amount of information into a simple chapter book about a five-day trip across the Atlantic. It's April 1939, and nine-year-old Paul and his parents set off from Manhattan to France and England aboard the Normandie, the queen of the famous French Line. From the family's well-appointed cabin (the Deauville suite, complete with a baby grand piano) to the elegant dining room and the pampering by their steward and stewardess, readers will know that this is a voyage in grand style. Mandel (Say Hey!) inserts a mild mystery subplot involving a missing boy--the hunt for whom allows Paul a chance to tour areas normally off-limits to passengers, such as the bridge and the engine room. While this device helps propel the story, it also points up its main flaw: nothing much happens. However, MacDonald's (Scarecrowell) carefully researched watercolors (at least one per spread) provide charming period window dressing, and the narrative offers an appealing glimpse of a bygone shipboard life. Ages 7-12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
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