The Sinking of the Vasa: A Shipwreck of Titanic Proportions by Russell Freedman, illustrated by William Low

Published by Henry Holt and Company

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Summary:  On August 10, 1628, the warship Vasa set sail, the flagship of the Swedish navy, commissioned by the king and two years in the making.  The crew was on board with their families; to their horror, a wind blew that ship over less than a mile into the voyage, sinking it and killing many men, women, and children.  An investigation ensued, and several theories were put forth, but the cause of the accident was never determined. Centuries later, in 1956, the remains of the Vasa were discovered by Anders Franzen.  It took five years to figure out how to raise her, but this feat was accomplished on April 24, 1961.  Today the ship has been restored and is on display at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. Includes a list of sources. 44 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  Quite a bit shorter than Russell Freedman’s usual works (maybe because he passed away in March), this is nevertheless an interesting and well-researched story of a tragedy that will draw readers in.  The illustrations are sumptuous, particularly the large foldout page, and are done in a style appropriate for the period of the story.

Cons:  From the title, kids may be expecting a story more similar to the Titanic.  It would make an interesting compare/contrast exercise, though, for those familiar with that story.

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