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Attack of the Turtle    by Drew Carlson & David A. Johnson order for
Attack of the Turtle
by Drew Carlson
Order:  USA  Can
Eerdmans, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

It's 1776 and the Revolutionary War is raging. Fourteen-year-old Nathan Wade is trying to find his place, not only as a patriot, but as a teenager living up to his fears. Nathan's father is a sailor, yet Nathan is afraid of water. He also is trying to overcome his fears of the neighborhood bully. When Nathan's father joins the war, Nathan is sent to live with his Uncle Elias. It is the first step on his adventure and his path to finding the courage within himself. It is also the first step along a path that will make U.S. naval history.

Drew Carlson's Attack of the Turtle tells the story of the fictional teenager Nathan Wade. But Nathan's tale is woven into the true story of inventor David Bushnell, who created the first water machine, or submarine. Bushnell's invention, designed to sneak up on, and blow up enemy ships was the first known machine of its kind. It served as a prototype for all submarines to come. Bushnell's invention thrilled the Continental Army. In 1785, George Washington wrote to Thomas Jefferson about the brilliant inventor's water machine. 'Bushnell is a man of great mechanical powers, fertile in inventions and master of execution ... I then thought, and still think, that it was an effort of genius,' he said.

In Carlson's story, Nathan Wade is David Bushnell's cousin. He helps to build the machine, while trying to keep it secret from the town's Tories. In return for Nathan's help, David promises to help his cousin face down his fears. Attack of the Turtle is a wonderful combination of fiction and nonfiction. It illuminates the life of a brilliant man, little known in the history of the United States. The story of young Nathan Wade also offers a link between history and today, as he struggles to find his courage. His tale draws readers in, making the book difficult to put down until the final page is turned. Illustrations of the actual submarine, named the American Turtle, offer a fitting end to the book.

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