Tag Archives: shipwrecks

The Whydah by Martin W. Sandler

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler. March 14, 2017. Candlewick, 176 p. ISBN: 978076368036.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.7.

The exciting true story of the captaincy, wreck, and discovery of the Whydah — the only pirate ship ever found — and the incredible mysteries it revealed.

The 1650s to the 1730s marked the golden age of piracy, when fearsome pirates like Blackbeard ruled the waves, seeking not only treasure but also large and fast ships to carry it. The Whydah was just such a ship, built to ply the Triangular Trade route, which it did until one of the greediest pirates of all, Black Sam Bellamy, commandeered it. Filling the ship to capacity with treasure, Bellamy hoped to retire with his bounty — but in 1717 the ship sank in a storm off Cape Cod. For more than two hundred years, the wreck of the Whydah (and the riches that went down with it) eluded treasure seekers, until the ship was finally found in 1984 by marine archaeologists. The artifacts brought up from the ocean floor are priceless, both in value and in the picture they reveal of life in that much-mythologized era, changing much of what we know about pirates.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Harsh realities of slavery and the slave trade; Murder

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 13))
Grades 6-9. In December 1716, pirates led by Sam Bellamy captured the Whydah, a large, fast, and heavily armed slave ship. Loaded with treasure, it was a rich prize. Four months later, it sank in a storm off Cape Cod. In the 1980s, a team searching for the Whydah located the wreck on the ocean floor and began bringing the ship’s bell, cannons, gold bars, coins, and other artifacts to the surface. Just as intriguing as the ship’s story is Sandler’s description of the causes and practices of piracy. While acknowledging that pirates deserve their reputation for barbarous cruelty, he praises their spirit of democracy, noting that their captains were elected and all crew members, regardless of race or ethnicity, had an equal vote in decisions. The black-and-white illustrations include archival prints, maps, and documents as well as photos of the excavation process and the objects recovered. Though the text branches into side issues at times, Sandler’s broad research and his evident fascination with the subject result in a multifaceted story that many readers will find rewarding.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2017)
Sandler tells the exciting true story of the only wrecked pirate ship ever found and the mysteries it revealed. Commissioned in 1715 in London and christened the Whydah after the West African slave-trading kingdom of Ouidah, the vessel was a galley ship configured as a heavily armed trading and transport ship for the Atlantic slave trade. In February 1717, the Whydah was attacked by pirates under the command of “Black Sam” Bellamy, who made the vessel his flagship. Bellamy and his newly captured ship menaced the coastlines of Colonial America until it was wrecked two months after capture in a nor’easter along the shoals of Cape Cod. The treasure-laden wreck was found in 1984 by marine archaeologists, and Sandler explains that 30 years of expeditions have “resulted in the discovery and retrieval of thousands of artifacts that increase our knowledge of the Whydah’s history and dramatically alter our perception of pirates and their way of life.” Sandler offers an insightful look at how different the realities of pirate life were compared to how it has been mythologized in popular culture. Instead of finding eye patches, wooden legs, rum bottles, and parrot remains, archaeologists discovered artifacts such as medical syringes, surprising for “an age when medical knowledge and practice were primitive at best.” A fascinating, vivid look at what one shipwreck reveals about the realities of the “Golden Age of Piracy.” (maps, photos, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Martin W. Sandler has written more than seventy books for children and adults and has written and produced seven television series. He has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has won multiple Emmy Awards. He lives in Massachusetts.

 

Teacher Resources

National Geographic Video:

The Whydah Lesson Plan

Around the Web

The Whydah on Amazon

The Whydah on Goodreads

The Whydah on JLG

The Whydah Publisher Page

A Storm Too Soon by Michael Tougias

A Storm Too Soon: A Remarkable True Survival Story in 80 Foot Seas by Michael Tougias. May 24, 2016. Henry Holt and Co., 240 p. ISBN: 9781627792813.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.0; Lexile: 1090.

When a forty-seven-foot sailboat disappears in the Gulf Stream in the throes of a disastrous storm, it leaves behind three weary passengers struggling to stay alive. This middle-grade adaptation of an adult nonfiction book tells the story of the four intrepid Coast Guardsmen who braved this ruthless storm in the hopes of saving them. A spellbinding tale of courage and survival from the author of The Finest Hours, now a major motion picture.

Part of Series: True Storm Rescues

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Alcohol; Domestic abuse

 

Book Trailer/Actual Footage

Reviews

Booklist (August 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 22))
Grades 5-8. When three men set out to sail from Florida to France, they hardly suspect the terrifying fate awaiting them. After several peaceful days aboard the Sean Seamour II, the sailors are overtaken by a sudden storm. Gigantic waves sink the boat, along with the men’s supplies. The exhausted sailors cling to a damaged life raft that provides little defense against the wind and waves. Meanwhile, back on land, a search-and-rescue plane deploys with the nearly impossible mission of locating the raft in the maelstrom. Once the raft is spotted, it is a constant struggle to track it while the helicopter crew maneuvers a rescue swimmer into 80-foot waves—large enough to possibly take down the aircraft. This true story, adapted from the 2013 adult book of the same title, reads like a thriller, with one thing after another going wrong and each challenge seemingly impossible to overcome. The courage displayed by the team may inspire readers to learn more about their exciting (if life-threatening) careers.

Kirkus Reviews (May 1, 2016)
In an adaptation for young readers of his A Storm Too Soon: A True Story of Disaster, Survival, and an Incredible Rescue (2013), Tougias tells the story of the Sean Seymour II, a 44-foot sailboat swamped in a Gulf Stream storm in 2007. For Rudy Snel, Jean Pierre “JP” de Lutz, and Ben Frye, it’s a dream voyage to cross the Atlantic from Florida to France in JP’s beloved boat. Conditions are favorable, the boat is in great shape, and the white men will be sailing in May, ahead of the hurricane season. They will simply sail northeast toward Bermuda and turn due east toward Europe. But best-laid plans go awry, and they find themselves caught in a storm of otherworldly proportions. Eighty-foot rogue waves sink the boat, and all hope resides in their life raft and their global position-indicating radio beacon. Tougias’ third-person narrative, condensed and more tightly focused than the adult version, brings to life the struggles and heroism of the sailors and rescuers alike, highlighting life lessons learned. The urgent present-tense narration places readers in the action, with smoothly woven detours adding information on such details as the trick to getting into a lifeboat, how sharks attack, and brief biographies of the rescuers. Readers will be fascinated by details about rescue boats, hypothermia, sharks, the Gulf Stream, and the difficult lives after survival. A sure-fire hit with young readers who are always ready for a good disaster tale. (epilogue, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

About the Author

Michael J. Tougias is an award winning author and co-author of 24 books.

Among his bestsellers are The Finest Hours (Disney Motion Pictures’ version will open in 45 countries in January 2016), Fatal Forecast, Overboard, King Philip’s War, and There’s A Porcupine In My Outhouse: The Vermont Misadventures of a Mountain Man Wannabe.

Tougias lectures across the country on each of his book topics. He also offers leadership/inspirational programs for business groups, and has spoken to companies and organizations such as General Dynamics, Raytheon, Massachusetts School Library Association, New York University Surgeons Round Table and many more.

His website is www.michaeltougias.com.

Around the Web

A Storm Too Soon on Amazon

A Storm Too Soon on Goodreads

A Storm Too Soonon JLG

A Storm Too Soon Publisher Page

Shackles from the Deep by Michael Cottman

Shackles from the Deep: Tracing the Path of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy by Michael Cottman. January 3, 2017. National Geographic Children’s Books, 128 p. ISBN: 9781426326646.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.4; Lexile: 1160.

A pile of lime-encrusted shackles discovered on the seafloor in the remains of a ship called the Henrietta Marie, lands Michael Cottman, a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and avid scuba diver, in the middle of an amazing journey that stretches across three continents, from foundries and tombs in England, to slave ports on the shores of West Africa, to present-day Caribbean plantations. This is more than just the story of one ship it’s the untold story of millions of people taken as captives to the New World. Told from the author’s perspective, this book introduces young readers to the wonders of diving, detective work, and discovery, while shedding light on the history of slavery.

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 6-9. The idea of identity is at the center of this fascinating narrative nonfiction book about the slave ship Henrietta Marie, which sank off the coast of Florida in the early 1700s. Cottman, an African American journalist and scuba diver, was moved to join the investigation of the wreck of the Henrietta Marie thanks to his curiosity about his own ancestry: “Could it have been possible that any of my ancestors had been on this slave ship?” His search takes him to London to research the iron worker who made the shackles discovered in the wreck, some small enough for children; to Barbados, where 188 slaves were purchased at an auction by the same man; and to countries in West Africa to walk the land where those Africans were captured. This truly multidisciplinary volume, an adaptation of his 1999 adult title The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie, engagingly explores a wide scope of topics, including the history of slavery, marine archaeology, and contemporary racial discrimination, culminating in a dive down to the wreck itself. Every bit of this concise, detailed book feels personal, and Cottman’s exploration and investigation of the wreck is rich with intrigue and poignant, thought-provoking questions. Color photographs show artifacts from the Henrietta Marie, and end material includes references and additional reading. Part mystery, part history, part self-discovery, this is a stunning trip well worth taking.

Publishers Weekly (November 14, 2016)
In this accessible and very personal account, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and scuba diver Cottman travels to the Caribbean, England, and West Africa as he retraces the route of a sunken slave ship, the Henrietta Marie, whose iron shackles kindle an “emotional journey. I had a deep yearning to know more about the oppressed African people aboard.” Cottman’s angered efforts to understand how the slave trade could be “simply business” drives his quest as he visits the grave of the shackle maker, Gorée Island in Senegal, and a Jamaican banana-packing farm. Cottman’s attunement to his emotional state is never far from the surface: “I knew it was unusual, but I had this strange sense that, whether or not these people were actually distantly related to me, they were my family,” he reports. “In the face of so much despair, cruelty, and sadness, these people and I were all connected because we had survived. Our people had survived.” A timeline, map, color photo insert, index, and additional resources round out this chilling exploration of the slave trade, along with a pitch for the “next generation of young adventure-seekers” to consider scuba diving. Ages 10-up.

About the Author

Cottman has written about politics, social trends, race, and America’s expanding multi-cultural society. He has interviewed and written about some of the world’s most prominent news makers, including President Barack Obama, United States Attorney General Eric Holder; White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, former South African President Nelson Mandela, the late John F. Kennedy Jr., former New York Mayors Ed Koch, David Dinkins and Rudolph Guliani, and former President Bill Clinton.

His website is www.michaelcottman.com.

Teacher Resources

Shackles from the Deep Educator Guide

Around the Web

Shackles from the Deep on Amazon

Shackles from the Deep on JLG

Shackles from the Deep on Goodreads