Monday, January 11, 2010

Shipwrecks - exploring history, archaeology and marine life (ages 8 - 12)

Children are fascinated by the sea.  In many ways, it's the great unknown, providing huge expanses of unexplored areas.  If your child is fascinated by the sea and is interested in learning more about the secrets hiding beneath the waves, look for Shipwrecks by Mary Cerullo.
Shipwrecks: Exploring Sunken Cities Beneath the Sea
by Mary Cerullo
NY: Dutton, 2009
ages 8 - 12
Oceanographer Mary Cerullo explores two strikingly different shipwrecks, looking at the path to discovering these shipwrecks, the clues to life aboard these ships and the ocean life that now makes these wrecks their home. The Henrietta Marie, a slave trader from 1700, was discovered in shallow waters off the coast of Florida by searchers working with renowned treasure hunter Mel Fisher, using a magnetometer to detect iron objects in the seafloor. Scientists and shipwreck hunters searched long and hard for the wreck of the Portland, a luxury steamship that sunk off the coast of Massachusetts in a fierce winter storm in 1898. This wreck is buried in over 300 feet of cold ocean water, and so can only be explored by a unmanned robot vehicle.

Students will find the stories of these two ships very interesting.  I especially liked how you got a sense of the stories unfolding.  Divers were not sure at first what sort of ship they had discovered off the coast of Florida, and you slowly learn how they pieced this puzzle together.  On the other hand, historians definitely knew that the Portland had sunk somewhere off the Massachusetts coast, but were not sure where exactly to look.  Scientists who could estimate the exact influence of the tides and storm waves helped pinpoint an area to investigate. The text is engaging and clearly written, supported by interesting side bars. Historical documents, full-color photographs and maps illustrate the story nicely.

At the end, you will find resources for further investigation and suggestions what students can do to help protect marine sanctuaries.  This is an inspiring read for aspiring scientists and oceanographers! 

The review copy came from a local reviewing group, the Association of Children's Librarians.  Find a copy at your local public library using WorldCat.  If you make a purchase from Amazon using the links below, a small percentage goes to Great Kid Books.  This will be used to buy more books to review.  Thank you for your support!


  1. Looks like a fun read. Definitely something that would be popular in my library. Thanks for recommending it.


  2. This might pair well with Sally M. Walker's SECRETS OF A CIVIL WAR SUBMARINE, which is one of my favorite books on shipwrecks.

    Thanks for the tip!

    Loree Griffin Burns

  3. Hi! It was fun to find your blog. We blog about a lot the same things. Stop by and see me! Thanks.

  4. This sounds fascinating. My daughter is captivated by all things about the sea. Thanks for the review.

  5. As a landlocked Alabamian, I found this review very interesting. The only shipwrecks around here would be on the Tennessee River. I read at my grandchildren's school. This week I'm reading Nubs, the True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle.

  6. I'm always looking for new kids books on archaeology and this one sounds great. I also recently discovered Tutankhamun by Demi which looks gorgeous.