IRON THUNDERThe Battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac
Hyperion Books, 2007
Hardcover Follett Bound, 207pp
Description from the Author’s Page
When his father is killed fighting for the Union in the War Between the States, thirteen-year-old Tom Carroll must take a job to help support his family. He manages to find work at a bustling ironworks in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, where dozens of men are frantically pounding together the strangest ship Tom has ever seen. A ship made of iron. Tom soon learns that the Union army has very important plans for this iron ship called the Monitor. It is supposed to fight the Confederate “sea monster”—another ironclad, the Merimac. But almost no one believes the Monitor will float!
Meanwhile, Tom’s job at the ironworks has made him a target of Confederate spies who offer him money for information about the ship. Tom finds himself caught between two certain dangers: an encounter with murderous spies and a battle at sea in an iron coffin. . . .
The battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac was a distance vague memory from my childhood. An exciting story, Iron Thunder shows off the skillful storytelling of AVI who always makes history is fun to read. It is through his character’s lives that his nimble novel writing excels.
Tom Carroll was an actual sailor on the Monitor who is fictionalized by Avi. Through Tom’s point of view his vivid and clever imagination for what could have been comes alive. Backed up and supported by primary and secondary sources, Avi’s story conveys the importance of these unproven, experimental iron ships and the significance of the battles that took place at sea.
In his author notes he shares how he researched background for the novel by examining newspaper articles, letters, memoirs, and eyewitness reports of those who served on the ships or witnessed the engagement.
Teachers should consider this an excellent choice for middle school readers, as a read aloud or literature circle study. Many themes can be explored as well as the controversy that remains as to who actually won the battle. Tom’s story becomes complicated when he is faced with tough decisions that weigh on his conscience.
Avi’s books are numerous in my school library collection. From fantasy to historical fiction, he knows how to entertain kids. Many books about the Civil War are inappropriate for upper elementary and middle school due to the brutal reality of battle. Without depicting the harsh and horrific images of the battlefield he is able to tell an inspiring story that is age appropriate. Iron Thunder is an important addition to the Civil War collection of historical fiction.
© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], .
Disclosure: Library book in my school collection.