Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn 1687, a boy on an island off the Dutch coast spies a ship floundering in the banks. He runs to tell his father, who gathers together six men to help row the heavy wooden rescue craft. Following a four-hour - long mission, the crew members (and their dog) are safely brought to land, where kind townsfolk care for them. The imaginative Spier then pushes the setting more than 300 years ahead, depicting a contemporary boy (with a name identical to the first) atop the same hill. He catches sight of flares set off by the crew of a sailing barge being pulled out to sea. With the help of beepers, his father alerts the volunteer crew of a state-of-the-art lifeboat, which reaches the distressed vessel in eight minutes. The concise, parallel plots effectively convey the timelessness of the islanders' tradition of helping those in need. Blocks of Spier's trademark, precisely detailed pictures fill the book's pages, many of which contain extensive blocks of text (these may prove heavy going for beginning readers). A historical note and labeled diagrams of a modern rescue boat conclude this informative story. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
Carolyn PhelanThis unusual picture book tells parallel tales of rescues at sea. In 1687 a boy named Sietze Hemmes is walking on the dunes above his village when he spies a ship in trouble on the outer banks. Sietze's father is the skipper of the town lifeboat, so the boy gathers the other crew members--the blacksmith, the clog maker, and the grocer. When he asks "Father, may I come?" the answer is no, but Sietze has the satisfaction of public thanks by the minister in church the next Sunday. Three hundred years later, another boy named Sietze Hemmes sees the flares of a ship in trouble. He, too, raises the alarm, calling his father, who is the skipper, and the rest of the lifeboat crew: the town's garage owner, the shoe-store proprietor, and so on. His father lets him come along to help rescue a boatload of children on a school trip. Sietze is "the hero of the day," with his picture in the paper and his story on the evening news. As ever, Spier's lively, detailed drawings make the story into an intriguing picture book. Appended are drawings and cross sections of a modern lifeboat, labeled and described in loving detail. In small type, Spier gives a short history of lifeboats and their volunteer crews, discussing what has changed and what has remained the same. Although the appeal of this book is somewhat narrower than some of Spier's other works, children who take to it will find it fascinating.
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