Close to the Wind: The Beaufort Scale

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9780399243998: Close to the Wind: The Beaufort Scale

Serving as a midshipman in the 1800s and sailing from Naples to the Caribbean, a young boy has the experience of a lifetime as the journey is changed constantly by the strength of the winds, in an informative guide to sailing, nautical terminology, and an introduction to the wind scale developed by Francis Beaufort in 1810.

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About the Author:

Peter Malone has illustrated numerous books for children, including Peter and the Wolf. He lives in Somerset, England.

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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