Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion

by Chris Barton and Victo Ngai

During World War I, more than 1,200 U.S. ships and twice as many British ships were... read more

During World War I, more than 1,200 U.S. ships and twice as many British ships were camouflaged in dazzling geometric designs. The goal was to paint patterns that would create confusion regarding the direction in which ships were traveling when viewed by German submarines. The idea originated with Norman Wilkinson, a commander in the Royal Navy reserve. It was carried out in part by women artists in Britain and, when the United States began dazzling, the Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps. Did the camouflage work? No one knows for sure. “But some insisted that at the very least, sailors on those ships just felt better knowing that something had been tried to keep them from getting torpedoed.” This fascinating bit of history is followed by an equally fascinating author’s note about his research and the decisions he made in crafting the account. Likewise, bold, bedazzling mixed-media illustrations are followed by an intriguing illustrator’s note. A timeline with black-and-white photographs and suggestions for further reading complete the volume. (Ages 7-10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018

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