cover image The Sinking of the ‘Vasa’: A Shipwreck of Titanic Proportions

The Sinking of the ‘Vasa’: A Shipwreck of Titanic Proportions

Russell Freedman, illus. by William Low. Holt/Godwin, $18.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-62779-866-2

This picture book retelling of the failed 1628 maiden voyage of the Swedish warship Vasa is another accessible, historical account by the late Freedman (Lincoln: A Photobiography). “Designed to terrify enemies and dazzle everyone who saw her, the Vasa was almost as long as a city block.” A vivid narrative chronicles the elaborate wooden ship’s construction; its extremely brief first—and last—sail in Stockholm’s harbor (the Vasa traveled less than a mile before wind gusts toppled it); and the remarkable 20th-century salvage operation that raised it from the salty waters and preserved much of its hull. Full-color artwork by Low (Daytime Nighttime) depicts the action, especially the underwater recovery efforts. Light-infused scenes bathed in aquamarine hues, including a clever gatefold of the ship’s remains being lifted toward the surface, are remarkably lifelike in perspective and scale, and realistic moments (glinting fish scales, the bulky folds of a diver’s suit) complement the detailed storytelling. The author ends with the meaningful observation that this restored former weapon of war, cannons still unfired, sits in its home country, also the birthplace of Nobel Peace Prize creator Alfred Nobel. Ages 5–9. (Aug.)