- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2006

By Justin Wong, age 12

Tilden Middle School, Rockville

“Shipwreck Detective,” by Richard Platt with illustrations by Duncan Cameron, is a book, journal, scrapbook and sketchbook all in one. It even has a built-in compass on the cover.

The “Shipwreck Detective” begins with a journal entry about a man named Duncan Cameron who teaches at an art school but also is a diver. Photos of him in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and exploring a wrecked 10,700-ton cargo ship, the Demetrios, are on just the first two pages of this awesome book. Not only does he include photos, but he draws parts of his equipment and discoveries of objects.

Throughout the journal, Mr. Cameron outlines his experiences as a diver. He includes a history of ships and sea life, drawings of different boats and fish, and also cool pop-ups. The pop-ups are things such as a stargazing map of the sky, instructions on how to tie sailors’ knots, a guide to the tropical fish of the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef, and much more.

I really enjoyed the way this book is creative and personal. Even though there are great historical facts, Mr. Cameron writes about his life and what he loves. Even the print in the book looks like someone’s handwriting.

One of my favorite sections is “Warriors at Sea.” One page is all about the Oseberg find (a buried viking ship dug up in Sweden in 1904) and Norse mariners. It’s funny how those warriors are contradictory: The section talks about how they were able to launch surprise attacks and were very aggressive but also had an appreciation for beautiful art and peaceful communities.

In this warrior section, Mr. Cameron has great drawings of Norse helmets and weapons such as double-edged swords, iron-bladed axes, and spears. Each drawing has a brief description. Also, some interesting viking lettering is at the bottom.

“Shipwreck Detective” is a great book for older elementary school and middle school students who are interested in diving and exploration of the sea. Even if you don’t know much about diving and ships, this book is fun and informative and can teach you many things.

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