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Heroes of the Surf

Overview

Adventure on the high seas!

WHAM! The Pliny jolts as if Black Beard himself has just punched her in the belly. Pedro and I slide and smack—bang—into the bulwark.

"We're grounded," cries the first mate. "We've hit a shoal!"

In May of 1882, a large steamship ran aground off the coast of New Jersey. Elisa Carbone imagines what it was like for two boys on that ship: waking up in the middle of the night, waves ...

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Overview

Adventure on the high seas!

WHAM! The Pliny jolts as if Black Beard himself has just punched her in the belly. Pedro and I slide and smack—bang—into the bulwark.

"We're grounded," cries the first mate. "We've hit a shoal!"

In May of 1882, a large steamship ran aground off the coast of New Jersey. Elisa Carbone imagines what it was like for two boys on that ship: waking up in the middle of the night, waves crashing over the side, the storm too big to lower the lifeboats. And then the flashing of light from shore—the surfmen, true "heroes of the surf," come to rescue them. The award-winning author's meticulous research combined with Nancy Carpenter's spectacular illustrations make this thrilling adventure on the high seas one not to be missed!

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
Based on a true story of shipwreck and rescue, Carbone's tale is leavened with narration by Anthony, a venturesome lad whose penchant for playing pirates helps him through the harrowing event. It's 1882, and the steamship Pliny, bound for New York City from Brazil, founders in a storm off New Jersey. Anthony and his friend Pedro run onto the deck to gauge whether New York is near. Instead, they face life-threatening conditions, as towering waves splinter lifeboats and the engines die. In the gray dawn, the boys see land, men and--a cannon. Before there's much time to ponder pirates, a rescue line is launched from shore to ship, followed by the breeches buoy: "It comes swinging toward us hanging from the rope: a life preserver with a pair of short pants attached." One by one, passengers are hauled along the line to safety ashore at Deal Beach. Carbone's text conveys a compelling "you are there" tone as Anthony prepares to ride the breeches buoy: "I swing out into open space. Below me, waves crash and twist like angry snakes. Will the ropes hold?" Carpenter's pictures beautifully capture both historical detail and the event's inherent drama. A seagoing palette of blue, gray, brown and ochre, crosshatched in black, thoroughly suits the period. Riveting reading, well-timed for the centennial of the Titanic's sinking. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-8)
Pamela Paul
A storm, a shipwreck and possibly pirates! What more could you want from a historical seafaring adventure?…Carbone…knows how to write history for young children in a way that sacrifices none of the facts—including dates; in this case, 1882—even as she tells a good adventure story…Nancy Carpenter…draws here in an expressive, inky black crosshatched style that creates a darkly vivid immediacy, intensifying the story's already considerable drama.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670063123
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/10/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 433,957
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 610L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.30 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Elisa Carbone lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Hendricks, West Virginia.

Nancy Carpenter lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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