Sunday, April 20, 2014

Uncrashable Dakota.

Marino, Andy.  Uncrashable Dakota.  Macmillan/Henry Holt  2013  309p.  $17.99  ISBN 978-0-8050-9630-9  ms  Fantasy      VG           

In 1912, the Dakota shipyards launched its latest airship, the Wendell Dakota.  The family business thrived on the discovery by the grandfather of the lifting power of a specific type of flatulent beetle.  Hollis, heir to the business, is familiar with the layout of the ship, inside and out.  With his stepbrother and an apprentice beetle keeper, he is used to running quite wild during a voyage.  With the launch of the largest ship on its maiden voyage, something seems off.  Early in the trip, the ship is hijacked and set on a course down the US east coast rather than across the Atlantic.  With smart thinking, chases through interior passageways and trickery, Hollis discovers who is leading the hijacking - his stepfather.
Somehow, Hollis does manage to overthrow the hijackers and save most of the passengers. 
Interspersed in the story are chapters about the discovery of the beetles and Hollis’s grandfather’s work with President Lincoln to end the Civil War.
This title is a cross between action/adventure and fantasy, with a touch of steam punk.  Middle-school students will enjoy the improbable idea of a ship held aloft by flatulent beetles.         

Aircraft-Fiction, Historical fiction                        --Joan Theal

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