Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell

The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell

Kathy-Jo Wargin
Illustrator:  Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Sleeping Bear Press, 2003   ISBN: 978-1585361267

On November 9th 1975 the Edmund Fitzgerald left the Duluth-Superior harbor to take a load of taconite pellets to Zug Island. The weather was changing, becoming more stormy but the crew were not too worried. They were experienced and, after all, they were sailing in one of the biggest ships on the Great Lakes. As the night progressed however the waves grew larger and larger. The Edmund Fitzgerald was followed by another ship, the Arthur M. Anderson and together the battled one, giving one another support over the radio.

Then things began to go wrong on the Fitzgerald. The radar failed and because of this captain had a hard time guiding his vessel around dangerous areas which could hole or even totally destroy the Fitzgerald. The Fitzgerald was then quite badly damaged by the storm and the rocks that lay beneath the surface. The captain asked the Anderson for help and they promised to use their radar to guide him along the right route. Alas for Fitzgerald this help was not enough. At the crew of the Anderson watched, the image of the Fitzgerald simply vanished from the radar. One minute the ship was there and the next it was gone.

All twenty-nine crew members who sailed on the Fitzgerald were lost. It wasn?t until 1995 that the wreck of the ship was investigated by divers. The ship?s bell was brought to the surface to serve as a memorial to all those who lost their lives on the Fitzgerald and on the many other ships that lie on the bottom of the Great Lakes.

With great delicacy and sensitivity Kathy-Jo Wargin tells the tragic story of the Edmund Fitzgerald in prose, and with the poem, the "Song of the Bell" unfolding throughout the story. This is a fitting tribute to all the sailors who went down with the Fitzgerald and it is certainly a book which those who were left behind can treasure.