Down to the sea in ships

Philemon Sturges

Book - 2005

Poems describe a variety of watercraft, from birch bark canoes to cruise ships, and reveal their impact on the world.

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Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5. The creators of Sacred Places (2000) offer this beautifully illustrated, verse tribute to boats throughout history. Each spread matches Laroche's stunning collages with a poem about a different vessel--from a Viking drakar and a whaling ship to a modern-day ferry, loaded with cars. The sense in Sturges' rhyming couplets is sometimes obscure. An opening selection, for example, instructs readers to learn basic boat principles by floating an object in a pail of water: If the thing weighs more than the water that spills, / To the bottom that thing will go. In addition, the meter in many lines doesn't scan well. But Laroche's meticulously constructed paint-and-cut-paper collages more than make up for the words' awkward moments. Gripping scenes of Magellan's fleet tossing on stormy seas or the minutely detailed cross-section of a contemporary cruise ship will draw eager young viewers. An enthusiastic adult reader may be needed to bring the poetry to life, but many young browsers will enjoy paging through and choosing their favorites from among the lavish, colorful boat parade. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The creators of Bridges Are to Cross examine a multitude of water vessels in Down to the Sea in Ships by Philemon Sturges, illus. by Giles Laroche, from the simplicity of "A Birch Bark Canoe" to the impressive "Viking Drakar" and even Magellan's fleet. While Sturges's rhymes ape the lapping of the sea, Laroche's collages make a whale hunt look almost three-dimensional, and a cutaway view of a cruise ship could well make readers eager to board a luxury liner. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-9-A seamless collection of finely honed but telling histories of important ships in fully realized poems. The organization is masterful: the first selection invites readers to "Put a thing in a pail filled with water,/- If lighter, the thing will bob and float/And so you have the beginning of a boat." The poetic language, whether about a birch canoe, the Vikings' voyage, Magellan's lost ships and crew, or the tale of the New England cod schooners, takes on the vessel's life and rhythm on the water. Examples of assonance, consonance, iambic pentameter, and rich imagery fill each page. Most of the poems rhyme; a few offer internal and slant rhymes. All of them are elegant and offer children a range of emotions from a humorous cruise ship to the poignancy of the "tall schooners set afloat/One lonely man each to a tiny boat." Whether the water illustrated is nearly black and tipped with white caps, aquamarine, sapphire, or royal blue, the art explores the variety of sea and sky. Laroche's boats, made of cut paper and paint, appear to lift from the waves and float in their pictorial waters. This author and illustrator work wonders together. A school and public library must-have.-Teresa Pfeifer, Alfred Zanetti Montessori Magnet School, Springfield, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Thoughtful rhyming poems describe such vessels as a Viking drakar, the famous ships Mauretania and Savannah (the first steamship to cross the Atlantic and back), and canoes, whalers, and sailing boats. The detailed illustrations feature intricate paper constructions enhanced with drawing and painting. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Paying tribute to boats and ships--and all who have taken them out onto wide blue waters--Sturges pairs a series of lyric verses to Laroche's carefully detailed, painted-paper collages. From a frail looking birch canoe to an immense modern cruise ship (the latter seen in engrossing cutaway), from a Viking Drakar rowed by a bearded, singing crew to the Savannah, first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic and return, the vessels present an arresting array of forms and sizes. But this is more than a simple sail-and-steam gallery; Sturges also commemorates whalers and cod fishermen (and the cod themselves), Magellan, who "sailed on to misfortune and fame," busy Puget Sound, blind boatbuilder John Herreshoff and the profound rewards of drifting silently: "Be still. / Ignore the distant sounds of Man and thunder. / Look deep into the sea. / Be filled with wonder." A poetic companion for the likes of Patrick O'Brien's The Great Ships (2001). (Poetry. 8-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.