Close to the Wind: The Beaufort Scale

Close to the Wind: The Beaufort Scale

by Peter Malone
     
 

In 1810, a British naval officer and surveyor named Francis Beaufort developed a scale to give sailors a common language for describing the wind. From 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricane), stunning artwork and jaunty prose show what life at sea must have been like for a young boy serving as a midshipman in the 1800s. As William sails from Naples to the Caribbean, we learn…  See more details below

Overview

In 1810, a British naval officer and surveyor named Francis Beaufort developed a scale to give sailors a common language for describing the wind. From 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricane), stunning artwork and jaunty prose show what life at sea must have been like for a young boy serving as a midshipman in the 1800s. As William sails from Naples to the Caribbean, we learn intriguing historical information and nautical terminology, and witness how the wind affected day-to-day life on a ship. Detailed illustrations show the wind at work, and readers will be engrossed and fascinated as they watch the storm develop in magnificent full-color paintings.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
Diary entries and letters purportedly written by a young midshipman in Beaufort's era, along with 12 quite magnificent full-page paintings, show how wind might have affected a sailing ship at sea at each level of the scale.
—The Washington Post
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6 - Captain Francis Beaufort of the Royal Navy spent the years 1805-1810 developing a graduated scale for measuring the wind. In a treatment that manages at once to be entirely informative and utterly charming, the author presents the captain's work through a rousing story. Young William Bentley, who provides the engaging narrative voice, is a fictional midshipman on the Zephyr, a man-of-war making a voyage from Portsmouth to Naples and then to Jamaica and back. The Beaufort scale of the prevailing conditions is given on the versos, while the rectos sport exquisite watercolor-and-gouache paintings that are reminiscent of the work of Barbara Cooney in their clarity, detail, and use of forms. The text is epistolary, as William writes from the dead calm of Naples (Beaufort scale 0-1), the sailing breezes of the voyage toward Jamaica (Beaufort scale 2-6), a gale and then a hurricane (Beaufort scale 7-12), and finally, a safe landing in Bridgetown, Barbados-far off course, but alive. Along with the instructive full-page illustrations (the Zephyrdisappearing in the swell of the hurricane is unforgettable), many small inset drawings give information on sailing ships. A double-page diagram of a man-of-war makes clear both the complexity of the rigging and the enormous number of trees that went into creating these graceful vessels. A map of the voyage and a biography of Beaufort complete a truly lovely job of bookmaking that covers a topic rarely treated in children's literature. While it will take promotion to move this title, it is a wonderful addition.-Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
For young tars in training, Malone offers an informative, if loosely organized, excursion into several nautical matters. Between notes on the 12-stage Beaufort Scale-developed in the early 19th century as a quick comparative gauge of wind speed-and carefully detailed paintings of a British frigate and her crew under sail in increasingly rough weather, he tucks in a fictional midshipman's account of an Atlantic Ocean crossing, along with explanatory comments on topics from shipboard jargon to navigation in the Age of Sail. Closing with a spread of additional notes on wooden ship construction, and a capsule biography of naval hydrographer Francis Beaufort, this not only makes pleasant browsing, but could introduce such more detailed outings as Patrick O'Brien's The Great Ships (2001), or Philemon Sturges's Down to the Sea in Ships (2005), illus by Giles Laroche. (glossary) (Fiction/nonfiction. 9-11)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399243998
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/10/2007
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.24(w) x 11.14(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
5 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Peter Malone has illustrated numerous books for children, including Peter and the Wolf. He lives in Somerset, England.

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