An incisive look at the tools, knowledge, and personal qualities that made Columbus's first voyage possible. The Yues (The Igloo, 1988) focus on available skills and technology and how they were used, describing in detail the ships and their rigging, nautical instruments, and how 15th century mariners knew where they were and found their way. They set the stage with a no-nonsense portrait of Columbus as ""a man who had complete dedication to his idea, enormous persistence, and an exceptional sense of the sea""--a man who had done his homework and knew what he was about. Responsibilities of members of the crew, some marvelous details of life aboard ship, and a summary of later events round out the picture. David Yue's frequent drawings, maps, and diagrams are attractive and often invaluable in clarifying the text; rarely, as in the case of an unlabeled diagram of the celestial sphere, is more explanation needed. Add this lucid, fascinating account to the short list of recent books that give young people new information and a truly fresh point of view on the controversial explorer (Pelta's history of his reputation, Discovering Christopher Columbus, 1991, and Meltzer's revisionist biography, 1990, come especially to mind). Bibliography; children's books for further reading; index.