cover image The Turtle Ship

The Turtle Ship

Helena Ku Rhee, illus. by Colleen Kong-Savage. Shen’s Books, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-88500-890-9

In this original tale loosely based on Korean history, a boy wins a national engineering challenge with inspiration from his pet. Sun-sin dreams of seeing the world beyond his seaside village, so he’s thrilled when the king issues a new battleship design competition: the winner will receive riches and, best of all, a role with the royal navy. After several failed attempts, Sun-sin hits on the perfect prototype: his turtle, Gobugi, who “is strong and steady and never sinks.” He’s mocked at court when he presents the idea, but a sudden attack from a royal cat gives Gobugi a chance to demonstrate his superior defensive skills, and the king is convinced that a turtle ship is the winning plan. Rhee’s smoothly paced story arc will read aloud well, while Kong-Savage’s striking, precise paper-collage scenes are equally effective in conveying the sweeping drama of ocean views and the personality and warmth in close-ups of Gobugi’s small, green face. An afterword about the story’s historical roots closes this engaging tale with a strong STEM focus from two debut creators. Ages 5–7. [em](June) [/em]