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Close to the Wind: The Beaufort Scale Hardcover – May 10, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 3-6–Captain Francis Beaufort of the Royal Navy spent the years 1805-1810 developing a graduated scale for measuring the wind. In a treatment that manages at once to be entirely informative and utterly charming, the author presents the captain's work through a rousing story. Young William Bentley, who provides the engaging narrative voice, is a fictional midshipman on the Zephyr, a man-of-war making a voyage from Portsmouth to Naples and then to Jamaica and back. The Beaufort scale of the prevailing conditions is given on the versos, while the rectos sport exquisite watercolor-and-gouache paintings that are reminiscent of the work of Barbara Cooney in their clarity, detail, and use of forms. The text is epistolary, as William writes from the dead calm of Naples (Beaufort scale 0-1), the sailing breezes of the voyage toward Jamaica (Beaufort scale 2-6), a gale and then a hurricane (Beaufort scale 7-12), and finally, a safe landing in Bridgetown, Barbados–far off course, but alive. Along with the instructive full-page illustrations (the Zephyr disappearing in the swell of the hurricane is unforgettable), many small inset drawings give information on sailing ships. A double-page diagram of a man-of-war makes clear both the complexity of the rigging and the enormous number of trees that went into creating these graceful vessels. A map of the voyage and a biography of Beaufort complete a truly lovely job of bookmaking that covers a topic rarely treated in children's literature. While it will take promotion to move this title, it is a wonderful addition.–Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA
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Clearly a labor of love, this picture book explains and illustrates the use of the Beaufort scale for measuring wind force at sea. From 1805 to 1810, Francis Beaufort, a captain in the Royal Navy, developed a scale from 0 to 12 based on observations of the wind's effects on the sea, the land, and the ship. To bring this information to his readers, Malone begins with His Majesty's Ship Zephyr in port in 1805 Beaufort 0: sea like a mirror, smoke rising vertically, ship becalmed. Each turn of the page shows the vessel venturing farther away under more vigorous conditions (light air, light breeze, gentle breeze, moderate breeze, fresh breeze, strong breeze, near gale, gale, strong gale, storm, violent storm) until the winds reach hurricane force. The right-hand pages carry large, strikingly executed paintings, while the facing pages offer the wind-scale information, fictional letters from a midshipman on board, and information on ships of the period. An informative book that will fascinate those intrigued by tall ships. Phelan, Carolyn
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Good picture books, I am always exclaiming, are so educational! What did we know about the Beaufort Scale before this find? Next to nil. Now, not only we learned about the useful scale that measures wind based on detailed observations, we also learned information on ship-building, sails, the life of sailors, curious entries in sailor's glossary, how many trees are cut down to build a ship, and the sad destiny of many ships after their many years of service.
Educational enrichment at its best for the whole family!
The research is also first rate; everything in the story, and everything implied by the continued increase of wind, is duly amplified by the surrounding commentary and supplemental drawings. I just loved it!
But especially fun for me is a connection which I could not have anticipated. Near the end, when he talks about the few ships from Beaufort's time still in existence, the name CONSTITUTION jumped off the page for me. It is indeed still afloat, and I have been fortunate enough to see it. But, more important, its reconstruction was based on studies by Thomas Gillmer, the designer of MY boat! What is more, I am currently awaiting a copy of Gillmer's book, OLD IRONSIDES, which is the story of that reconstruction. Go figure!