In September 1991, the fishing boat Andrea Gail left Gloucester, Massachusetts in search of swordfish. After a month at sea, with its hold full of fish, it started for home, sailing directly into the path of one of the worst storms of the 20th Century. The Andrea Gail and her entire crew were lost. The subject of the recent best-selling book, The Perfect Storm, and the movie of the same name, this story may be familiar to many children. This book does a good job of describing life on a swordfish boat: how swordfish are caught, the inherent danger in many aspects of the work, and the crew's grueling schedule. And though the explanation of how the storm formed is rather brief, the descriptions of its power are quite vivid. Details about modifications made to the Andrea Gail that ultimately made the boat less stable in the water are also interesting. The one real weakness here is that, because no witnesses survived the wreck, Houghton is left to speculate about what happened. After enumerating the many ways a boat can capsize and sink, Houghton postulates, "The sound of the waves breaking must have been deafening and the utter despair on board the Andrea Gail palpable. . . The crew's last moment must have been a blind chaos of tumbling gear, confused and panicked attempts to make sense of the upside-down passageways, and a relentless onslaught of cold, dark water." This seems a bit overwrought, particularly for a children's book, and readers with vivid imaginations may find it quite disturbing. An excellent list of additional sources of information, as well as a glossary, bibliography and index are included. Part of the "When Disaster Strikes!" series. 2003, The Rosen Publishing Group,
Barbara Carroll Roberts
Gr 4-6-Much of Fein's book about the sinking of the Japanese fishing boat Ehime Maru in Hawaiian waters in 2001 by the USS Greeneville looks at the mistakes made by the sub's crew and the role of 16 visitors whose lunch delayed its schedule, possibly contributing to a "rushed" safety routine. The author describes the strained relations between this country and Japan prior to the debacle and the efforts of the United States to take responsibility for the disaster. The author includes a brief history of submarines and discusses operational maneuvers. Houghton packs a lot into her volume, which summarizes the events leading up to the loss of the fishing boat Andrea Gail in 1991 and discusses the possible ways it sank. She describes the structural modifications that were made to the boat and never registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies. She covers the history of Gloucester, its home port, and repeats several times that more than 10,000 of its residents have died at sea since the town was founded in 1623. Descriptions of how the storm formed and what the Andrea Gail battled in its final hours are powerful. Both books have captioned, color photographs and sidebars. Curiously, time lines at the tops of pages do not always correspond to the incidents mentioned below.-Edith Ching, St. Albans School, Mt. St. Alban, Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.