Iron Thunder: The Battle Between the Monitor and the Merrimac

Iron Thunder: The Battle Between the Monitor and the Merrimac

by Avi, C. B. Mordan
     
 

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When his father is killed fighting for the Union in the War Between the States, thirteen-year-old Tom Carroll must take a job to help support his family. He manages to find work at a bustling ironworks in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, where dozens of men are frantically pounding together the strangest ship Tom has ever seen. A ship made of iron.

Tom

Overview

When his father is killed fighting for the Union in the War Between the States, thirteen-year-old Tom Carroll must take a job to help support his family. He manages to find work at a bustling ironworks in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, where dozens of men are frantically pounding together the strangest ship Tom has ever seen. A ship made of iron.

Tom becomes assistant to the ship's inventor, a gruff, boastful man named Captain John Ericsson. He soon learns that the Union army has very important plans for this iron ship called the Monitor. It is supposed to fight the Confederate "sea monster"—another ironclad—the Merrimac. But Ericsson is practically the only person who believes the Monitor will float. Everyone else calls it "Ericsson's Folly" or "the iron coffin."

Meanwhile, Tom's position as Ericsson's assistant has made him a target of Confederate spies, who offer him money for information about the ship. Tom finds himself caught between two certain dangers: an encounter with murderous spies and a battle at sea in an iron coffin

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In this first of the “I Witness” series, Avi takes his young readers into the heart of a family during the Civil War. Tom Carroll is devastated by the death of his father in battle and worried about his mother and older sister. Determined to help the family, he goes to the Navy Yard and finds himself working for the strange Captain Ericsson on the strangest ship Tom has ever seen--a ship made of iron. Even many of those working for Ericsson consider the ship doomed to fail and nickname it “Ericsson’s Folly” and “The Iron Coffin.” But 13-year-old Tom believes in the Monitor and recognizes its importance to the outcome of the war. Throughout, Tom faces external dangers and an internal battle as he struggles to do what is “right,” but is not sure whether that means being loyal to a cause he blames for the death of his father or willingness to sell information for money that would put food on the table. The author includes historic documents and drawings throughout the text to bring the history to life. There is also a glossary, a report on the Monitor today, and an extensive bibliography for additional study. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8
Early in 1862, 13-year-old Tom Carroll must go to work when his father is killed in a Maryland battle. He finds a job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he is put to work on "Ericsson's Folly," the ironclad that will become the Monitor . He works closely with Captain Ericsson and becomes fascinated with this odd "raft." The floating battery is scoffed at by many, but the "Copperheads," Northerners who sympathize with the Southern cause, are distinctly interested. Tom is approached by Confederate spies but cleverly escapes them with the help of his friends. To stay clear of these dangerous men, he moves onboard the Monitor and lives there until its completion. Tom is an eyewitness to history as the ship travels to join the Union blockade fleet and enters into its fateful battle with the Merrimac . He takes pride in the vessel, and his part in her construction is evident in his firsthand telling of the story. Factual information and historical terms are woven smoothly into the narrative. Period photographs, engravings, and newspaper headlines are strategically placed throughout the text to further bring history to life. A glossary provides added clarity, and an author's note explains that although Tom Carroll really existed, the boy in this story is a compilation of several people on the ship and the author's imagination. This exciting, fast-paced historical adventure will add a bit of drama to Civil War units. Even reluctant readers will appreciate it.
—Carolyn JanssenCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The Confederacy has built a monster ship to break the Union's blockade of the Atlantic coast, and 13-year-old Tom Carroll has a new job at Rowland's Continental Iron Works in Brooklyn helping to build its opponent. The Monitor, Captain John Ericsson's invention, is being called "Ericsson's Folly" and "the iron coffin," and Tom will sail with Ericsson and his crew into one of the greatest naval battles in history. Tom is the eyewitness in this entry in the I Witness series, so the volume is strong on firsthand observations and intelligent commentary, but short on historical background and context. Period illustrations, engravings, photographs and maps provide additional information. The bibliography is limited, but readers may find themselves so absorbed in Tom's exciting narrative that they will seek out for themselves other good works on the Civil War. (glossary, author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781423105183
Publisher:
Disney-Hyperion
Publication date:
08/11/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
95,233
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Avi's books are loved by kids and adults everywhere. He has written more than 50 books, several of which have garnered prestigious awards, including the Newbery Medal and two Newbery Honors. His titles with Hyperion include Crispin: The Cross of Lead, Crispin at the Edge of the World, and The Book Without Words. He lives with his family in Colorado.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
Website:
http://www.avi-writer.com

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