OLD IRONSIDES: Americans Build a Fighter Ship by David Weitzman

OLD IRONSIDES: Americans Build a Fighter Ship

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Weitzman (Thrashin' Time, 1991, etc.) combines historic facts, captivating black-and-white line drawings, and a fictional eyewitness to tell the story of the first frigate in the American Navy, the U.S.S. Constitution, nicknamed ""Old Ironsides."" The tale opens in the late-18th century, when the US finds its ships overrun by the piracy of the high seas and Congress earmarks $688,888.52 for six new American warships. The focus shifts to a young boy, John Aylwin, who often tarries at the Hartt Brothers Shipyard in Boston. He observes the shipbuilding, from design to launch. The numerous spreads stylistically evoke the era, while also capturing the meticulous construction process: the felling of oak trees, the hand-stitching of sails, the hand-hammered copper tiles that form the ship's watertight seal. Weitzman has a draftman's eye for detail, and often provides a sense of scale by placing John along the ship, but never includes backgrounds--e.g., the shipyard or Boston Harbor--making the presentation somewhat antiseptic. He does provide a detailed schematic, with the ship's various features numbered, making this an ice-breaker suitable for a wide range of audiences in history classrooms.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin