cover image Ship


David Macaulay. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $19.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-395-52439-8

In Ship , as in many of his earlier books, Macaulay tells more than one story and does so in more than one way. The book begins with a fictional archeological crew salvaging the remains of a caravel, a 500-year-old sailing ship, from the bottom of the ocean. The tale is related through Macaulay's vivid pencil drawings, through text accompanying the illustrations, and also through documents and letters in the artwork. Though almost no pictures or descriptions of actual caravels survive today, Macaulay shows how archeologists and historians have pieced together an idea of the likely look and construction of these ships. Then, halfway through the book, Macaulay begins another tale--the design, financing, contracting, construction and launch of that same fictional caravel in the year 1405. Subdued watercolors accompany the ``diary'' of the Spanish merchant who commissioned that ship. Though Macaulay barely portrays the actual voyage, he has nonetheless crafted an exciting story out of the details of marine archeology, historical sleuthing, and the ancient building and equipping of an ocean-going sailing ship. Though the text and book are brief, the depth of the coverage is surprising--Macaulay plays with the relationships between time and color, words and illustrations, and he varies visual perspectives to offer a rich reading experience. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)