cover image SAILING HOME: A Story of a Childhood at Sea

SAILING HOME: A Story of a Childhood at Sea

Gloria Rand, , illus. by Ted Rand. . North-South/Cheshire Studio, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7358-1539-1

With emotional range and plenty of historical detail, this picture book follows four children who grow up sailing the oceans on the John Ena, a four-masted cargo ship for which their father is captain. Young Matilda narrates the days when "every morning we woke up far away from where we'd gone to sleep." Working from the journal of the Madsens, a real 19th-century seafaring family, the Rands (Baby in a Basket) pack the pages with remarkable facts. Balls bounce overboard, so Matilda and her siblings play catch on deck with beanbags instead. The family buys gifts for Christmas and birthdays months ahead of time on long voyages. And when the seas grow rough, they must tie furniture to the walls and secure it to the floor. The book carries readers from cheerful anecdotes about pets and games to a gripping description of the heroism of the children's parents when their ship broaches (rolls onto its side): "Neither of them showed any panic or fear, and that made us children feel brave, too." Skillfully drafted watercolor spreads often show action at an angle to convey the sense of the ship pitching on the waves, and suggest a life of constant motion. An afterword with period photographs describes the Madsens' post-oceangoing life. Even landlocked readers will feel the pull of the high seas in this suspenseful memoir. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)