Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Disaster of the Hindenburg: The Last Flight of the Greatest Airship Ever Bui

The Disaster of the Hindenburg: The Last Flight of the Greatest Airship Ever Bui

Shelley Tanaka
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic, 1993   ISBN: 978-0590457507

Irene Doehner is not at all convinced that this trip is a good idea. After all, airships looked so flimsy; could one of them really carry her and her family all the way to America? Then she gets to see the Hindenburg, the ship that she is to travel on. It is the biggest vessel she has ever seen and when it takes off she can barely feel the movement at all.

Werner Franz is a cabin boy on the Hindenburg and he has already been to South America several times. He is very eager to see the United States for the first time, the country famous for its sky scrapers and cowboys. For him the Hindenburg is home and he dreams of the day when he will move up in the ranks from cabin boy to who knows…captain maybe?

Taking just two and a half days to cross the Atlantic, the Hindenburg is the pride of Nazi Germany and the biggest airship of its kind. Travelling in it is comfortable and the food is excellent. The views of cities, icebergs, and wildlife from the huge vessel are splendid and many people are sure that it won't be long before the skies will be full of airship fleets which will ferry people, goods, and mail all over the world.

Unfortunately for the Hindenburg and for sixteen year old Irene, this particular trip ends in tragedy. As the great airship is coming in to land in New Jersey, it bursts into flame and because it is filled with the highly combustible hydrogen gas, the ship is almost totally destroyed in just minutes.

By telling the story of the last journey of the Hindenburg from the point of view of two young people, Shelley Tanaka gives this famous story a personal and very realistic touch. Irene and Werner were real people who travelled on the Hindenburg and unfortunately Irene was one of the thirty five people who died because of the fire. Full of wonderful illustrations, photographs and diagrams, this is a book which will fascinate young people who are interested in the history of flight.