Heroes of the Surf

illus. by Nancy Carpenter. unpaged. CIP. Viking. May 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-06312-3. LC 2011012218.
Gr 2–4—In 1882, the British steamship Pliny left Brazil for New York City with a cargo of coffee, hides, and a small group of passengers. Nearing the New Jersey shore, it encountered a furious storm and went aground. Carbone plays off this incident, telling of the journey through the eyes of a young passenger named Antonio, who, along with his friend Pedro, fantasizes about pirates and finds danger with the roll of every wave. When the Pliny nearly sinks, the children are convinced that the men on shore are their imagined pirates rather than rescuers. Saved via a breeches buoy by the Life-Saving Service, the boys discover what real danger is all about. Carpenter matches Carbone's growing pace with line work that effectively depicts the roiling seas and frothy waves. Good characterization adds to the drama. Boys, especially, will be captivated by the story of a sea rescue in the early days of the Coast Guard. An afterword fills out the details of the historical event and provides background on the work of the Life-Saving Service in the late 1800s.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
When the British steamship Pliny ran aground off New Jersey in 1882, the U.S. Life-Saving Service came to her aid. Carbone's tale revolves around two real-life boys aboard the Pliny, who rethink their fascination with pirates post-rescue: pirates are out, life savers are in. Carpenter's palette creates a strong setting for this spirited tale. An author's note separates fact from fiction.

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