Lifeboat 12

by Susan Hood

This novel in verse is based on the experiences of Ken Sparks, who, at 13, survived... read more

This novel in verse is based on the experiences of Ken Sparks, who, at 13, survived a harrowing eight days on a lifeboat in the Atlantic. Ken was a child evacuee from England heading toward Canada, part of an organized effort during the Blitz in WWII. Ken is eager to escape the bombings and considers his trip aboard the SS City of Benares an adventure. As one of the oldest, he tries to buoy the spirits of younger boys in his group. The ship is luxurious; compared to the meager rations back home, each meal is a veritable feast. Six hundred miles out, though, the Benares is struck by a U-boat torpedo. Ken boards Lifeboat 12. As the night passes, crewmen aboard the lifeboat suspect that rescue efforts have missed them. Over the next week, the 46 passengers— among them six boys—struggle to survive on strictly rationed food and water. They suffer sunburn, trench foot, and sheer boredom; to pass the time, the boys’ escort, Mary Cornish, invents a story, which she doles out in parts day by day. This well-researched, fast-paced, exciting survival story is followed by end matter that includes photographs and additional information about the survivors, including the South Asian sailors (Lascars) who were not identified by name in contemporary news reports of the rescue. (Ages 8–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

show less