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Summary: John and Albert Ingalls of New Bedford, Massachusetts became wealthy by selling whale oil and whalebone. After much discussion, they made a decision to add another ship to their whaling fleet. This is the story of how the whaling ship “Ulysses” was built. This is a fictional story built around the non-fictional backdrop of buildling a boat.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: Wooden Ship has hand sketches of ocean side villages in Maine where fine sailing ships have been hand built for many decades. In story form, the tale of building a wooden sailing boat unravels from conceptual diagram and small model boat thru drawings of the keel, to shaping the hull to putting on the inner skin of the ship to the outer skin. Page after page of stately drawings of the geometry and style of the ship. A must read for kids who love manly occupations in the traditional sense. Very enjoyable!
Adult Reader Reaction: In his unique style, the author provides the reader with an interesting story that is made even more interesting by his superb illustrations. It is a wholesome story about the construction of a sailing ship, filled with interesting details that educate, delight, and entertain the reader.
Pros: Jan Adkins presents the reader with a believable and enjoyable story fully capable of standing on its own. Adkins is not just a story teller. Assuming the role of nautical guru, he embellishes the story with scientific and engineering detail that help the reader understand the “what and how” of things. His pen and ink illustrations graphically rival his story-telling gift.
Borrow or Buy: This book deserves a buy recommendation. There is something intriguing about sailing ships and Jan Adkins’ Wooden Ships, captures that allure and shares it with the reader.
Educational Themes: The building of big wooden ships was a remarkable process. Materials came from all over the world. Tools were primitive. Working conditions were dangerous. The weather could delay the process. Despite all that, the folks in New Bedford built some of the best wooden ships in the world. There are lots of discussion topics that beg for consideration.
Literary Categories: fiction - picture book, boats, history