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FATHER, MAY I COME? by Peter Spier


by Peter Spier & illustrated by Peter Spier

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-30935-X
Publisher: Doubleday

Spier's love of history again combines with his love of transport (The Erie Canal, 1970, among many), now in a fictionalization of the development of the Royal Netherlands Rescue Society (KNRM). In parallel stories set 300 years apart, a Dutch boy spots a ship in distress and raises the alarm; each time, the boy's father is skipper of the volunteer rescue crew, but only in the 20th century is the boy allowed to go along. The incredibly numerous, often humorous minutia in Spier's deceptively casual pictures contrast the periods in fascinating detail. In the later story, the village has grown, but the same church, windmill, and lighthouse remain (though the latter bristles with communications gear); even the rabbits that peep from behind a dune are the same. Descendants of the 17th-century crew have their forebears' names and faces and follow similar trades (blacksmith/garage owner, clogmaker/shoestore owner); a farmhouse is hardly changed (save for a satellite dish where the privy used to be). Most important, the selfless spirit of the rescuers has endured. Map of the treacherous coast; diagrams of the modern lifeboat; brief history of the KNRM. (Picture book. 5-8)