________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 15. . . .December 10, 2010


Shipwrecks, Monsters, and Mysteries of the Great Lakes.

Ed Butts.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2011.
80 pp., pbk., $16.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-206-6.

Subject Headings:
Shipwrecks-Great Lakes (North America)-History.
Great Lakes (North America)-History.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Suzanne Pierson.

**** /4

Reviewed from Unproofed Galleys.



Captain Edward Robertson kept them going. He had already lost one man, and he was determined not to lose one more soul. The captain had a frozen foot and a frozen hand, but he was the force that kept the people moving. He pulled people to their feet when they fell, and pushed them forward. He shouted until he was hoarse, urging the people to keep putting one foot in front of the other. He even threatened stragglers with violence if they didn't keep up. He would allow no one to stop or rest. To surrender to exhaustion was death!


Batten the hatches and prepare for chilling stories of tragedy and challenge on the Great Lakes. Author Ed Butts has written a highly readable and entertaining book which will appeal to anyone with a love of adventure. The added bonus is that these are true adventures of ships, men, women, and children who braved the unpredictable waters of the Great Lakes.

      Shipwrecks, Monsters, and Mysteries of the Great Lakes is a well written collection of stories beginning with the mysterious disappearance of the Griffon in 1679, followed by eight stories of shipwrecks told in separate chapters arranged in chronological order, ending with the story of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1979. The final two chapters report sightings of monsters on Lake Ontario (Creatures of the Abyss), and Lake Erie (A Monster Called Bessie).

      Few of the stories have happy endings. Butts has plenty of material to choose from. He reports that "since the loss of the Griffon, more than six thousand vessels, large and small, have met tragic ends on the Great Lakes."

      The bibliography includes a number of works by noted scholars, lending credence to this book. I am reviewing Shipwrecks, Monsters, and Mysteries of the Great Lakes from un-proofed galleys, and this copy does not include an index, which is an unfortunate omission if one is not included in the final version. {Editor's Note: Communication with the publisher confirms that an index will not be part of the finished book.] Even a brief index would be helpful in a book that contains so many interesting details and descriptions.

      The final lines of Butts' introduction explain the appeal of these stories. Although there have been many advances in technology and government safety regulations, "in many aspects the Great Lakes remain untamed, and any ship venturing out of port into the wilderness of water faces the unexpected."

Highly Recommended.

Suzanne Pierson is a retired teacher-librarian, currently instructing Librarianship courses at Queen's University in Kingston, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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