Cover image for The sinking of the Vasa : a shipwreck of titanic proportions
The sinking of the Vasa : a shipwreck of titanic proportions

Shipwreck of titanic proportions
The sinking of the Vasa : a shipwreck of titanic proportions
First edition.
Publisher Info:
New York : GodwinBooks, Henry Holt and Company, 2018.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 31 cm
Describes the building of the mighty Swedish warship, the Vasa, how it sank not even a mile out of the harbor, the subsequent investigation, and how it was brought to the surface and restored more than three hundred years later. "Ten billowing sails, sixty-four bronze cannons, hundreds of tragic voyage. Discover the story of the warship Vasa."--back cover.
Added Author:


Call Number
Material Type
J 359.32 FREE New or Popluar Book Juv Nonfiction

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In full sail with flags flying, the mighty warship capsized and began to sink. This is the saga of the great Swedish warship, the Vasa. Built to be the crown jewel of the Swedish Navy, the Vasa capsized not a mile into her maiden voyage in 1628--a tragedy resulting in many deaths and great loss. But who was to blame? Award-winning author Russell Freedman explores the history of this ship, and her resurrection from the seas in 1961. William Low's gorgeous illustrations bring this story to life.Godwin Books

Author Notes

Russell Freedman was born in San Francisco, California on October 11, 1929. He received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley in 1951. After college, he served in the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps during the Korean War. After his military service, he became a reporter and editor with the Associated Press. In 1956, he took a position at the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson in New York, where he did publicity writing for television. In 1965, he became a full-time writer.

His first book, Teenagers Who Made History, was published in 1961. He went on to publish more than 60 nonfiction titles for young readers including Immigrant Kids, Cowboys of the Old West, Indian Chiefs, Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life, Confucius: The Golden Rule, Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America, Vietnam: A History of the War, and The Sinking of the Vasa. He received the Newbery Medal for Lincoln: A Photobiography and three Newbery Honors for Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery, The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane, and The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. He also received the Regina Medal, the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture Award, the Orbis Pictus Award, the Sibert Medal, a Sibert Honor, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and the National Humanities Medal. He died on March 16, 2018 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-In August 1628, the Vasa, a massive, opulently decorated Swedish navy warship, was ready to launch. Commissioned by Sweden's king and having taken more than two years to build, she was loaded with weaponry and crafted to strike fear into all enemies. Anticipation over the inaugural sailing was high, with observers waving offshore and the ship's crew and their families on board. Shockingly, after traveling less than a mile, the Vasa was struck by wind, capsized, and sank, taking many lives. The ensuing investigation suggested poor design was to blame. Whatever the cause, no charges were ever brought. More than three centuries passed before the great hulk was raised from Stockholm's harbor in the late 1950s. Years of painstaking repair and restoration followed and today, the Vasa is proudly displayed in a museum. Freedman did impeccable research to recount this little-known event, and his clipped sentences convey appropriate drama and suspense. Low's wonderful digital paintings perfectly capture the historical settings and prodigious breadth and size of the ship. Underwater scenes depict exciting salvage efforts and include a breathtaking gatefold of the Vasa being lifted to the surface. There are a number of curriculum connections to be made with this text; for journalism and history units, elicit oral or written "you-were-there" interviews from the perspectives of the sinking ship's observers or survivors. Students can also compare and contrast the events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic and the Vasa. VERDICT A richly crafted work of history for upper elementary schoolers.-Carol Goldman, formerly at Queens Library, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

This picture book retelling of the failed 1628 maiden voyage of the Swedish warship Vasa is another accessible, historical account by the late Freedman (Lincoln: A Photobiography). "Designed to terrify enemies and dazzle everyone who saw her, the Vasa was almost as long as a city block." A vivid narrative chronicles the elaborate wooden ship's construction; its extremely brief first-and last-sail in Stockholm's harbor (the Vasa traveled less than a mile before wind gusts toppled it); and the remarkable 20th-century salvage operation that raised it from the salty waters and preserved much of its hull. Full-color artwork by Low (Daytime Nighttime) depicts the action, especially the underwater recovery efforts. Light-infused scenes bathed in aquamarine hues, including a clever gatefold of the ship's remains being lifted toward the surface, are remarkably lifelike in perspective and scale, and realistic moments (glinting fish scales, the bulky folds of a diver's suit) complement the detailed storytelling. The author ends with the meaningful observation that this restored former weapon of war, cannons still unfired, sits in its home country, also the birthplace of Nobel Peace Prize creator Alfred Nobel. Ages 5-9. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

The late, great Freedman and the illustrator of Old Penn Station (2007) and other award-winning picture books pair up for a dramatic account of the ill-fated first voyage, modern rediscovery, and restoration of a seventeenth-century vessel intended to be the mightiest warship the world had ever seen. The spare narrative begins with the felling of a thousand oak trees at the command of Swedish King Gustav II Adolf, and goes on to recount the top-heavy ship's construction, its disastrous 1628 launch, and the ensuing inconclusive inquest. Around a climactic double gatefold, it describes how the ship was raised from the mud of the Stockholm harbor in 1961 and transformed from a soggy wreck to a glittering historical monument that the author, with a fine (if perhaps debatable) closing rhetorical flourish, dubs a testament to peace. In Low's low-angle, slightly soft-focus illustrations, the ship looms massively, the ornate baroque ornamentation of its gilded hull and brass cannon shining with a sumptuous glow. A magnificent tribute to a magnificent folly.--Peters, John Copyright 2010 Booklist