cover image Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World

Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World

David Macaulay. Roaring Brook, $24.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-59643-477-6

More than 30 years after the publication of The Way Things Work, Macaulay continues to amaze with his architect-trained eye for detail and ability to make the complex understandable. His latest demystifies steam power and its use in ships through the mid-20th century. Bookending the steamship chronicle is the story of the author’s boyhood immigration from Great Britain to the U.S. in 1957 aboard the fastest transatlantic passenger steamship at the time, the SS United States. After delving into the mechanics of steam power, the narrative introduces naval architect William Francis Gibbs and details construction of Gibbs’s dream ship—the same one that carried the author to his new home. The final of four chapters recollects his family’s ocean crossing. Macaulay’s trademark diagrammatic illustrations, with varied perspectives, cross-sections, explanatory captions, and a dose of subtle humor, offer a multilayered reading experience. Particularly impressive is a massive gatefold that offers a stunning bow-to-stern cutaway of the SS United States. A timeline, selected reading list, and archival photos accompany an afterword that entreats that “we must look back ... to see where we’ve been and to be reminded of our accomplishments,” as it discusses a conservancy’s efforts to preserve the historic vessel. Ages 10–14. [em](May) [/em]