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Submarines    by Sydelle Kramer order for
by Sydelle Kramer
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Softcover
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

The Step Into Reading program leads young readers toward independent reading, ranging from Step 1 Ready to Read (Preschool-Kindergarten) through Step 5 Chapter Reading (Grades 2-4). The classifications are guidelines only, as youngsters set their own pace. The series logo makes a good point - 'a love of reading starts with a single step!'

Opening the first page of Submarines reveals a photo of polar bears on snowy ice, headed toward the USS Honolulu, which has surfaced at the North Pole. It is the first of many photos and schematics gracing the pages. The author writes in the Introduction, 'The voyage may last for months ... work, sleep, then work some more ... disaster can strike at anytime, sending a sub to the bottom from a small leak, a fire, a collision. Orders are heard from the captain to 'Dive!', and 'Whoosh!', down goes the nuclear-powered submarine. Kramer explains the principle of submersion, water filling ballast tanks while air vents open and close. The up periscope position occurs at sixty feet under water (below sixty feet the mirrored tube won't work). Everything on board must be secured to prevent loose objects causing injuries and/or damage. In the year 1920, leaks and opened valves flooded the compartments of the U. S. submarine S-5, causing the sub to sink to the muddy bottom.

Sydelle Kramer describes the submarine's interior, consisting of narrow corridors, spaces full of dials, switches, buttons, and pipes. Trained crew members keep constant vigil of conditions inside the sub, in the surrounding water, and above the water. The color and black-white pictures grab the reader's interest. Included are views of the USS Seawolf, the USS Florida, and docked on cradles in the New York Navy Yard (circa 1905) are the USS Shark and the USS Porpoise. Among the detailed schematics is the nuclear reactor device, showing how it works compared to the old-style submarines that were run by two engines.

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