By: Candice Ransom
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010
The Outer Banks of South Carolina had a history marked with death for many ships that washed upon its banks, casting crew and passengers into its churning seas. It soon became known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. In 1874 the U.S. Lifesaving Service began to set up crews in an attempt to save some of the unfortunate shipwreck victims. Each crew of six went by rank. One leader of a crew was fired and an African American named Richard Etheridge took his place. No one would work beneath him, so Richard hired a six-man crew of African Americans to guard the shores of Pea Island. Soon they would find a very young African American who would prove his mettle as a surfman in an emergency.
Sam Deal loved riding his horse, Ginger, along the sandy shores of Pea Island. He loved watching the surfmen drill and he too wanted to join their ranks when he was older. They allowed him to watch their drills and Keeper Etheridge even let him participate one day. They let him swim into the surf and let a surfman put him in a breeches buoy. The Keeper said, “They’ll put the rescued person into those canvas breeches and he’ll float.” They practiced sinking the anchor into the sand and shooting an attached rope into the sea. They worked hard at their jobs, and soon their work would be tested.
On October 11, 1896, a storm had begun, but “every night the surfmen walked up and down the beach” and “looked for ships in danger,” so when they spotted distress rockets they began preparations to help. They couldn’t bury the anchor and the waves were too treacherous to launch a lifeboat. The men could only hope that by swimming to the ship they could help, but there were more people than just two men could rescue. Sam Deal soon saw how he could help and went into the turbulent waters with Ginger. Would he be able to help rescue anyone? Could he even survive going into the Graveyard of the Atlantic? Would Ginger spook when she got into the charging surf?
This is an exciting story of a young hero, Sam Deal, who braved the Graveyard of the Atlantic with his horse Ginger to help rescue “shipwrecked passengers and crew.” This thrilling story, based on a “real” historical kid hero will captivate even the most reluctant reader. An overview of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, now the U.S. Coast Guard, was given in the front with an emphasis on the service of the African American. The artwork meshed perfectly with the text and generated a lot of tension and excitement as the rescue continued. In the back of the book is more information abut the U.S. Coast Guard and additional recommended book and website resources.
Quill says: If you have a youngster with a lot of imagination and a flare for adventure, this is one book you might want to consider adding to your list!