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The Sinking of the Vasa: A Shipwreck of Titanic Proportions — 20 Comments

  1. As an educator, I am learning day in and day out. This book hit me hard—knowing that I had never known or read about the Vasa. This may spark a non fiction writing unit/comparison paper on Ship Wreaks around the world…or in our very own great lakes. The sky is the limit with this text. 5 of 5 stars.

  2. I have read quite a few books by Freedman, mainly longer texts. I thought this was an interesting topic, but wish it had more back matter with actual photographs of the restored boat, and maybe photographs of similar decorations from the time period so students could see how ornate the craftsmanship was that the Vasa would have had. I think that maybe a closer look at the typical life of the workers as they built the ship might also have been an interesting aspect to include. I’m not sure how kids will react to the line that the sunken Vasa was “littered with the skeletons of those who had perished,” but it certainly paints a vivid picture.
    This could tie into a unit of study on things that float/engineering.

  3. I had never heard of the Vasa before reading this book. It was very interesting to see the process from start to finish, and I think it would be a great book for kids who are interested in the Titanic, or into the I Survived-type books. I think this would be a good one to pair with a boat-building STEM activity. You could read the book, and then discuss what went wrong and how the design should have been different, while the kids build their own boats.

  4. The late Russell Freedman is a writer I have long admired. I did not know the story of the Vasa. But kids today are fascinated of the story of the Titanic so I plan to introduce them to this book. It is a dramatic tale they are sure to enjoy. I think it would be a great research topic to introduce. By it way too high level for 2nd/3rd graders. I will be purchasing this book for my intermediate school (5th/6th grades). The artwork is amazing!

  5. I thought these pictures were beautiful and I enjoyed the text. It read like a story and not just a facts based history book. It was presented like a mystery and asks the question – why did it fail? It was a new story for me and probably would be for the kids as well which would inspire further study and research. I have done boat building activities with kids before, this would be a great tie-in to a STEM study. I do agree with another camper that this would be more appropriate for older elementary students. 4/5 stars

  6. I enjoyed learning about the Vasa. I had never heard of the ship and found the story to be fascinating. If I did use this book in class, it would probably be a vehicle to discuss making mistakes and learning from failure. (This was a BIG one) Is it important to assign blame? Did they (the Swedes) learn anything from their failure? Did it change the course of ship building? I also thought that the book really needed some type of photos, labels and more information at the end of the book, much like in the book about Raye Montague. I did not like the last page where the author inserted his opinion about how the Vasa was a failure of military might and is a testament to peace. Whether it is true or not, It seemed out of place in a non-fiction book. Realistically, I probably would not use this as a classroom read, but it has a place in the school library. 3/5
    ps. It did make me curious enough to check out the Vasa online!!

  7. One of the best things about children’s literature is the fact that you can learn a lot about something you knew nothing about the day before. I, too, like the storytelling nature of this non-fiction text. It was interesting and entertaining to read. If you were doing a STEM challenge of boat building, this would be a nice tie in. In general, however, I do not think this is one that I would use in my 2nd-grade classroom because the topic and reading level are more than most 2nd grade students would tackle.

  8. Like in others of Russell Freedman’s books, I learned a lot about a subject I knew hardly anything about, and was captivated by his storytelling. The text reads not like a history text, but like a tale. I enjoyed how Freedman asked questions of the reader throughout the book in order to engage the reader and allow us to puzzle through the mystery as well.

    This is another book from the reading list that I enjoyed, but I don’t think I would use this book with this particular age group. I think the interest in shipwrecks is there for second and third graders, but I think the text would be overwhelming for most, even if used as a read aloud or guided reading selection. That being said, this would be a good challenge for advanced readers, especially with regards to vocabulary building or complex sentence structure.

    Overall rating: 4/5 stars

  9. This was an interesting story I had not heard before. I don’t think I would use this book in class, but I could see if being used maybe in a STEM tub. It is a good example of how mistakes happen; a discussion could be made about why the design didn’t work.

    • I also meant to write I would have liked to see a real photo of the Vasa. I’m disappointed when a nonfiction book does not include photographs when they are available. The illustrations were beautiful, but there could have been some photos also included.

  10. This is a super interesting story about the sinking of the Vasa. The explanation of how the ship sank and how they raised the ship could end up being science experiments for the class. The vocabulary will be challenging, but could easily be explained as the teacher reads it aloud. The investigation process would be another area of interest to discuss. Would they follow the same process today? I would recommend this for 3rd graders and up. I’ve been to Stockholm and have seen the museum which made it even more interesting for me.Illustrations were excellent, but an explanation of the rigging of a large sailing vessel would be helpful to students. We also have a Vasa Township in our school district district and for this reason it would be fun to read.

  11. I loved the pictures and story, but don’t think this book is 2nd grade friendly. It’s long and above most of their reading levels. If I had it in my classroom it would be something they could just read independently. I give this book 3/5.

  12. I really learned a lot from this book. It teaches history of the Swedish ship, although I wouldn’t use it for teaching I believe the students would really like to read it. Would not work as a read a loud as the reference to God and the alcohol comments would not be suitable for elementary students. 8 out of 10 due to these reasons.

  13. I personally didn’t find this book interesting but I appreciate it because the illustrations are beautiful and detailed and I know many children who would enjoy this book. So many kids go through a “Titanic” phase and this would be a good one to recommend to any kid in that phase.
    This isn’t a good book for storytime use but definitely one that could be recommended for one-on-one reading. As far as curriculum use goes, maybe? Possibly for an engineering unit? Or a study of Sweden? It seems to be very much a special interest book for the most part.
    Rating 3/5 stars

  14. This over-sized book works wondrously to tell the unusual story of the Vasa. Russell Freedman is the master storyteller and the illustrations are stunning. The word Titanic in the subtitle will capture the attention of my Titanic enthusiasts who are always looking for another book! It is an historical example of how something bad was converted into something good over time. It also shows how trying to find someone to blame was not the best solution. The open-up double spread illustration is spectacular! This would a picture book that adults who are historical buffs would enjoy reading; maybe even more than children! I would rate the book 4/5 stars.

  15. I really got involved in this book. Illustrations and descriptions were outstanding. I would probably steer away from usage as a read aloud as it has a lot of alcohol references and God. I would assign it to my higher level readers

    Rating 5/5 stars

  16. This book introduces the reader to such an interesting piece of Swedish history. It is fascinating that something that was such a failure has become the most visited place in Sweden. The illustrations were lovely. The first part of the book is the historical account of the Vasa and the second half of the book is about it’s recovery.

    I used this picture book with 3rd and 4th graders to explore vocabulary. The descriptive language used by the author is a wonderful opportunity to explore new words and phrases with young readers.

  17. This book was amazing!! The illustrations and the story were so well done!! I really enjoyed reading about the Vasa.
    This would be a great book to read aloud to a class. I would read part of the book to the class and then have the predict why they think the ship sank. Also I would have them predict how it we could have made it safer. It reminds me of the Titanic and I’m sure students who know about the TItanic would relate to that also.
    I think if would also be fun to do an art project with this book to. I would have the kids design an art piece they would have likes to have on the Vasa… something not at heavy as what they had.
    I rate this book 5/5 stars!!

    • I enjoyed learning about the Vasa. Students love reading about the Titanic and would find this book a good introduction to another famous shipwreck. I feel that the book lends itself to a good introduction to a research project for 4th or 5th graders and would have put it in that book list. The illustrations are captivating and really help tell the story and make this an attractive independent read also, again more appropriate for upper elementary.
      4/5 stars