Ned the Nuclear Submarine
Written and Illustrated by Demetri Capetanopoulos
Columbus Publishing Lab 12/18/2018
28 pages Ages 7+
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes—fears, courage, nuclear submarines,
Synopsis—Ned the Nuclear Submarine is a story about overcoming fears, both real and imagined, to enable discovery and growth. Seldom featured in a children’s book, the fascinating world of a submarine is introduced in a way that is both realistic and yet accessible, drawing upon my personal experiences as a U.S. Navy Submarine Officer. We journey with Ned on an epic voyage around the world that unfurls in rhyme, with true-to-life images and events taken from history.<small>(from author)</small>
Ned was a nuclear submarine,
built of high-strength steel,
born of a thousand workmen,
by the river where they laid his keel.
They filled him inside with their skill and their pride,
in addition to pipes, tanks and wires.
Made to sail all the seas, just as long as you please,
fueled by his nuclear fires.
Why I like this book—Ned the Nuclear Submarine takes readers from Ned’s birth to his maiden voyage around the world. Ned feels “unsure, untested, and unprepared.” Well-meaning tips from tugboats and a wise, old WWII ship only serve to intensify Ned’s fears of the unknown. Fearful or not, Ned embarks on his first journey. He is determined to keep his crew safe, no matter what lies ahead. Using satellites, Ned determines his location, keeping him on course. He learns to navigate around shipping traffic. When storms fall, Ned dove below the surface to avoid the storm’s rage. The more Ned learned and accomplished, the more his confidence grows. Back home Ned smiles, having journeyed further than any submarine or ship ever had.
Ned the Nuclear Submarine is an interesting story about submarines, Ned in particular. His fears transform into courage right before your eyes. There is also a lot of information for inquisitive kids. In addition to the text, Capetanopoulos’ illustrations contain much detail. While using crayons and pencils give the book an amateurish look, the illustrations will keep kids attached to the pages. Capetanopoulos keeps the perspective correct and his lines straight. He is a good artist.
Picture books tend to have few words and written for young readers. Ned the Nuclear Submarine contains enough text for a small chapter book. The vocabulary suits middle grade kids and a vocabulary list with definitions would be welcome. This would also allow more words that are sea-worthy, increasing the reader’s knowledge of new and unusual words.
But . . . the final few spreads are too light to discern. Did the illustrator tire out, not able to add the depth of color needed for readers eyes? The final spread, as Ned returns to his home base, should be the brightness, most colorful spread of all; a celebration! Also, Ned the Nuclear Submarine is more suited to prose than poetry. Kids could have learned more about reactors, magnets, and more. Poetry is much more than rhyming words (or near rhyming). Here, stanzas change from couplets to triplets, sometimes in the same stanza. Rhyme schemes are wild, sometimes occurring with end words, sometimes in the middle, and sometimes in one line. Poetry is not hard to learn, but is difficult to master, especially when writing for children. Despite this, Ned the Nuclear Submarine is not a difficult read.
Back Matter—A two page Historical Endnotes offers information about 3 nuclear submarines, the USS Nautilus (the first nuclear-powered submarine), the USS Skate, and the USS Triton (the only submarine with two nuclear reactors on board). The fourth and last section is about Captain Edward Beach, aka Ned, who made twelve combat missions during WWII. After this section is an ideal place for a much-needed vocabulary.
Illustrations—crayon and pencil
Ned the Nuclear Submarine is Demetri Capetanopoulos’ debut children’s book. He both wrote and illustrated.
Ned the Nuclear Submarine. Copyright © 2019 by Demetri Capetanopoulos. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Demetri Capetanopoulos. Published by Columbus Publishing Lab, Zanesville, OH.
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Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved