In full sail with flags flying, the mighty warship capsized and began to sink.
This is the saga of the great Swedish warship, the Vasa. Built to be the crown jewel of the Swedish Navy, the Vasa capsized not a mile into her maiden voyage in 1628—a tragedy resulting in many deaths and great loss. But who was to blame? Russell Freedman explores the history of this ship, and her resurrection from the seas in 1961.
He grew up in San Francisco and attended the University of California, Berkeley, and then worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press and as a publicity writer. His nonfiction books ranged in subject from the lives and behaviors of animals to people in history. Freedman's work has earned him several awards, including a Newbery Honor each for Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery in 1994 and The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane in 1992, and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.
Freedman traveled extensively throughout the world to gather information and inspiration for his books. His book, Confucius: The Golden Rule was inspired by his extensive travels through Mainland China, where he visited Confucius' hometown in modern day QuFu, in the Shantung Province.
****To read more about the stellar and prolific career of this author, please follow this link to read the Obituary published in 'Publisher's Weekly' Magazine in March, 2018.
Obituary of Author Russell Freedman
This book presents the amazing true account of the sinking of a Swedish ship, the Vasa, in 1628. I discovered this book on one of my online library catalog searches under historical books for children published in 2018.
This book is in an oversized picture book format which I think is the perfect format because of the size and grandeur of the Vasa. The artist has included many large-sized diagrams and paintings which will engage middle-graders in this true-life disaster. There is even a four-page fold-out spread of what the ship looked like under water. The artwork in this book is simply awesome!
King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden ordered construction of the 'mightiest warship the world had ever seen' in the mid-1620's. The ship was named after the royal family's name, Vasa. Apparently, Sweden was frequently at war with her neighbors at this time and was known as a powerful maritime foe.
The king not only wanted to impress and frighten its enemies with a huge ship, he wanted it to overwhelm everyone who saw the Vasa. The ship was almost as long as a city block and was as tall as a fourteen-story building.
The ship was a work of art with hundreds of sculptures and carvings which were painted and gilded on the hull. There were gun decks on either side of the ship which could hold sixty-four bronze cannons. Can you just imagine the weight of this ship?
I won't spoil the details of the story for you, but the ship sunk on its maiden voyable, like the Titanic, and lay at the bottom of the ocean for three hundred thirty-three years. As dramatic as the sinking of the ship was, I found the second half of the book to be even more engaging with the story of how the Vasa was salvaged in 1961.
This true-life account will come to life for children and adults through the excellent writing of the author and the amazing artwork and diagrams of the illustrator.
***Extremely highly-recommended for teachers; librarians; children of all ages; fans of oceanography, marine history, maritime history, Swedish and European history, shipbuilding, and engineering. This book would make a fantastic read-aloud for primary students and an independent read for middle-grade and older students. This is definitely one of my top ten MMGM reads of 2018!***
BONUS CONTENT: I enjoyed my virtual visit to the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. If you wish to learn more about this ship and see photos of how the Vasa looks now that it has been restored, click on the following link: The Vasa Museum
I borrowed this book from the children's section of the local public library.
Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.