Author and historian Marc Aronson has been having a stellar year, with two books nominated for Cybils awards in the MG/YA nonfiction category. He wrote Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert, an account of the copper miners who were trapped underground for over two months after a mine collapse in August of 2010. He also co-authored Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science with his wife.
In Trapped, Aronson captures the reader’s attention with a brief eye-witness account of the mine collapse. He then delves into the geological history of the site, as well as a bit of the social conditions that led to the miners working the mine at the time of the collapse. What follows is a play-by-play of the events both below and above the surface as people from all over the world rush to try to rescue the trapped men in time. The book is sprinkled with photographs of the actual rescue, as well as detailed illustrations of the mine and the drilling operations.
Reading this account you realize how very many things had to come together and go right for the rescue to succeed. If the miners had not organized as a group and planned the food distribution, they may have all starved before help arrived. If one of the drills had missed finding the shelter, if this, if that, if… Even though you know the outcome, so much is riding on every step succeeding that you are still on the edge of your seat.
If you read nothing else, look at “How I Wrote This Book”, starting on page 108. Aronson points out that when researching a recent event there aren’t any books to encapsulate the story. You need to be able to use the Internet effectively and he has some highly useful tips for doing so.
Trapped is an inspiring story of how much can be accomplished when people all work together towards one goal. It is also a study in how to research and write about a current event. Both journeys make it a worthwhile read.
Cybils Notes: Although the background information was meant to be enriching, sometimes it seemed to get in the way of the story. Once the author gets to the main story, it moves along quickly and succinctly, only wobbling occasionally.
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (August 30, 2011)
Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.
This week’s post is at Playing By The Book.