Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Surviving the Hindenburg

Surviving the Hindenburg

Larry Verstraete
Illustrator:  David Geister 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Sleeping Bear Press, 2012   ISBN: 978-1585367870

Werner is a cabin boy on the Hindenberg, a huge airship that is traveling from Germany to the United States. Werner’s job is to wash dishes, lay tables, make beds, and to serve the officers and passengers in any other way that he can. When he isn’t working, Werner explores the huge airship, visiting the mechanics who keep the four engines working, and the captain and officers in the control car.  Best of all, Werner likes to look out of the little window that is at the bow of the ship. From here he can look down on the Atlantic Ocean, and on the third day of the journey, on May 6, 1937, Werner sees land again.

Werner is able to see the city of New York as the great airship flies towards its destination, an airfield in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Werner is putting away some dishes when he hears a “muffled thud.” The stern of the ship begins to sink to the ground, and when Werner goes out into the corridor to see what is going on, he sees that the Hindenberg is on fire. Werner starts running, but the fire is faster, and Werner does not know how he is going to escape the conflagration.

This is the true story of Werner Franz, the fourteen-year-old boy who was working as a cabin boy on the Hindenburg’s tragic last journey. Werner wrote about his experience in his journal, and shared his extraordinary story with others when he was interviewed in the years following the tragic accident. Using Werner’s own words and recollections, the author shows his readers what it was like to work be on the Hindenberg, and what it was like to be trapped inside her when she caught fire on that fateful day in May.