August 20, 2017

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Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion by Chris Barton | SLJ Review

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redstarBARTON, Chris. Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion. illus. by Victo Ngai. 36p. chron. further reading. photos. Millbrook. Sept. 2017. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9781512410143.

Gr 2-5 –During World War I, the British were in danger of starving because so many German U-boats were sinking American and British supply ships. Eventually, Norman Wilkinson, a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve lieutenant-commander, had the idea to paint boats in such a manner as to confuse the German submarine captains, and the concept of “dazzle ships” was born. Barton chronicles the creation and implementation of the strategy, including the team of women artists who designed the patterns and the laborers who painted the ships. Readers learn that the wild, striped designs fooled the U-boat captains into thinking the Allies’ ships were headed in opposite directions, thus leading to confusion and failed offenses for the Germans. The well-written, intriguing text is complemented by Ngai’s vibrant and surreal illustrations that skillfully recreate the glittering water and the striking camouflaged vessels. Students will appreciate the information, while taking in the amazing artwork. More material is provided by author’s and illustrator’s notes at the end. In addition to the back matter, photographs of Wilkinson and one of the dazzle ships are also included. VERDICT With the commemoration of the centenary of World War I, this book is a fascinating selection that will captivate readers, especially war story enthusiasts.–Margaret Nunes, Gwinnett County Public Library, GA

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2017 issue.

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