The Story –
This is the story of a newly commissioned nuclear submarine, Ned. Ned has to venture out on his first voyage in the ocean for which he is unsure, untested and unprepared. He has a few tugboats for the company while he is tethered at his home base. The tugboats feed his fears with stories of getting lost in the bottomless seas and monsters lurking everywhere. Among the numerous negative voices, Ned gets to hear one wise voice in the form of a rusty diesel boat, a survivor of the Second World War, who gives him the genuine advice about what to steer clear off – pirates, storms, shallow bottoms, strange countries, ships, and planes.
Ned sets off on his maiden adventure. He learns on the way he cannot get lost for there are satellites in the space guiding him along. He experiences passages through busy narrow straits; watches the world above the waters by raising his periscope above the water surface; overcomes the dread of raging storms by staying deep down; navigates through the midst of icebergs with precision finally reaching the North Pole from where everything is south. Proud of his achievement, he sails back to his home base with confidence ready to tell his story to the world. A story of valid fears and challenges, a story hardly believable.
My review –
My first impression of this picture book was – ‘It is long and heavy on text however the illustrations are fantastic.’ I went through all the pages, at once, looking for the uniqueness of the illustrating style using pencil colours and I was certainly impressed.
To be candid, reading the book in the first attempt seemed like a huge task. The nuclear submarine’s world was new to us. The last time I read a submarine’s story was Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea in 6th Standard of which I remember absolutely nothing except for the name Captain Nemo. The context of how nuclear fuel, Uranium, is burnt in a controlled setting to heat up water to generate steam for powering the turbine, in turn, causing the propellers to work in moving the submarine proved to be much beyond our expectation from a picture book.
A book which challenges the reader has to be a good book.
Ned’s story and the science involved in the working of a nuclear submarine took repetitive reading to sink in. After a couple of reads, Dhruv and I, both were able to appreciate the beauty of the story of Ned’s maiden voyage. The scientific aspect has been educative and a curiosity builder.
The writing style involves extremely intelligent rhyming weaved into longer sentences and the text presentation in verse style is easy for the eyes. The book has a message for the young readers – To rise above one’s fears, to go out and conquer what you are meant for.’
Unlike Ned, I am not a traveller at heart and yet his ending message to the new submarines after completing his voyage appealed to me.
“Love your home, but fear not to roam, for the world has so much more.
Ships are safe in harbours, but that’s not what ships are for.”
The above quotation is most often attributed to John A. Shedd.
In the final pages of the book, there are detailed mentions from the history about 3 American nuclear submarines built in the 1950s. This book is so much more than a picture book, I have to say.
My verdict –
Now that we love this book so much, we have to keep going back to it again and again. I know where I am going to place this book in my bookshelf, right next to the award-winning book Locomotive by Brian Floca since it belongs to the same league for me for the right blend of story, science, history and captivating illustrations.
Author/Illustrator – Demetri Capetanopoulos
Release Year – 2018
Publisher – Columbus Publishing Lab, USA
Age group – 7+
Available to buy from Amazon – click on the links below:
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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