cover image THE EDMUND FITZGERALD: The Song of the Bell


Kathy-jo Wargin, , illus. by Gisjbert van Frankenhuyzen. . Sleeping Bear, $17.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-58536-126-7

In a book likely to hold chiefly regional appeal, Wargin and van Frankenhuyzen (previously teamed for The Legend of Sleeping Bear ) grapple with the tragic true story of the Edmund Fitzgerald , a cargo ship that sailed Lake Superior and sank in November 1975. As a raging storm engulfs his vessel, the captain maintains radio contact with the captain of the nearby Arthur M. Anderson , informing him of his dire situation. Approaching a dangerous shoal, the Fitzgerald loses first its long-range and then its short-range radar, begins "taking on" water and can no longer detect the radio-direction beacon from land, leaving the ship "blind in the storm." Shortly after the captain of the Fitzgerald radios the Anderson to say, "We are holding our own," however, his ship, with all 29 men aboard, simply (and disturbingly) disappears. Despite the dramatic subject, the narrative is often dry, with some occasional color added by the interspersed rhymed couplets that make up the "Song of the Bell" of the subtitle ("The battered bell rang as the storm held its grip—/ It rang for the men as the heart of the ship"). Van Frankenhuyzen's realistic paintings convey the ferocity of the storm, yet similar images of the dark, tumultuous lake water grow repetitive and unfortunately lose their punch. Ages 6-12. (Oct.)