BLACK HANDS, WHITE SAILS

THE STORY OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN WHALERS

From the McKissacks (Young, Black, and Determined, 1998, etc.), a well-written, historical account of African-Americans who sailed on whaling ships off the East Coast between 1730 and 1880. The whaling industry provided great opportunities for free black seaman (and runaway slaves), many of whom could not find jobs elsewhere. The McKissacks note that during the “golden age” of whaling in the early 19th century, African-Americans comprised one-quarter of the crews; after the Civil War, their ranks swelled to half of all whalers. Not only does this book describe the whaling industry, it provides original maritime documents and historical black-and-white photographs from the Mystic Seaport Museum and the Kendall, New Bedford, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard whaling museums. Another thread of this fascinating history is the story of the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad for the Nantucket and New Bedford whalers. Beyond an overview, readers also meet some individuals, such as Lewis Temple, who developed the “toggle” harpoon design with barbs that stuck into the whale’s body and wouldn’t pull out easily, and John Mashow, who designed whale ships, including the Nimrod. The McKissacks describe an exciting period of maritime history, and celebrate an industry that chose workers on the basis of their skills, and not their skin. (index, not seen, b&w photos, appendix, chronology, bibliography). (Nonfiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48313-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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THE CIVIL WAR AT SEA

In this companion to Portraits of War: Civil War Photographers and Their Work (1998), Sullivan presents an album of the prominent ships and men who fought on both sides, matched to an engrossing account of the war's progress: at sea, on the Mississippi, and along the South's well-defended coastline. In his view, the issue never was in doubt, for though the Confederacy fought back with innovative ironclads, sleek blockade runners, well-armed commerce raiders, and sturdy fortifications, from the earliest stages the North was able to seal off, and then take, one major southern port after another. The photos, many of which were made from fragile glass plates whose survival seems near-miraculous, are drawn from private as well as public collections, and some have never been published before. There aren't any action shots, since mid-19th-century photography required very long exposure times, but the author compensates with contemporary prints, plus crisp battle accounts, lucid strategic overviews, and descriptions of the technological developments that, by war's end, gave this country a world-class navy. He also profiles the careers of Matthew Brady and several less well-known photographers, adding another level of interest to a multi-stranded survey. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1553-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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WILLIAM PENN

FOUNDER OF PENNSYLVANIA

In his absorbing picture-book biography aimed at a slightly older audience, Kroll (Robert Fulton, 1999, etc.) immediately informs readers that Penn was a rebel. “Born to a life of privilege, William Penn chose dissent instead,” ignoring the status quo in favor of following his convictions, in an era of great religious and political tumult. Drawn by the belief that every individual could communicate directly with God, Penn became a Quaker; his desire for religious freedom and tolerance prompted him and his followers to travel to the land that would become Pennsylvania. Arrested over and over again for espousing his beliefs and betrayed by his business manager, Penn struggled all his life because of his convictions. The text is highly event-oriented and packed with information; the portrayal of Penn is somewhat impersonal, but readers will learn of and be impressed by his accomplishments. Himler’s watercolors accurately conjure time and place, and underscore more somber elements of the story. (chronology) (Picture book/biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1439-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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