David Macaulay spoke about his research on "Ship" when he was in Salt Lake City a couple of years ago. His fascination with the underwater discoveries of sunken ships, called caravels ("the space shuttles of the 15th century") was a topic of great interest. He said he wasn't intending to dive with the archaeologists as they explored the ocean floor. He did go to Egypt and climb the pyramids to do his book "Pyramid" and trekked the world studying medieval structures for "Castle"; so he may have changed his mind on the underwater dive.

Whether the research was personal or through the eyes of underwater archaeologists and historians, it is a fascinating story. "What did these ships whose voyages expanded the map of the world really look like? How were they designed and built to accomplish their extraordinary feats?"In a very straightforward approach, he fits clues and artifacts together in a fictionalized discovery of the Magdalena, a 500-year-old ship from Seville.

Macaulay begins with the preparations of four archaeologists whose surveys have identified the location of a possible sunken vessel. But it is not for a couple of years, while legal work is completed, until the divers' work begins.

Then it is discovered that treasure hunters had left a trail of carnage. "Fragments of timber and broken gorgonia surround a gaping hole near one end of the ballast mound . . . in their frenzied search for anything shiny, treasure hunters have destroyed whatever got in their way . . . "

To protect and chart what remains, the archaeologists form an underwater grid - tagging, mapping and photographing all sites. Measurements are precise. It is a month later that some of the artifacts are recovered - guns, breech chambers, timbers and metal fasteners. Scraps of metal, glass and pottery are also found and disclose much regarding the vessel.

"Ship" tells about the recovery of these items from the ocean floor and their cleaning and preserving, which takes months. Macaulay has made detailed drawings of all of this (his architectural background is very apparent here) and often includes X-ray type sketches that indicate what may be inside a conglomerate of crusted objects or what the ballast looked like when it was brought to the surface. This is as close as most people will ever get to the discovery itself before a few objects appear in a museum.

According to Macaulay's story, just when the remains of pottery, guns and haquebut are attached to a possible date and location, one researcher in Seville finds a journal hidden inside a packet of materials marked as early 16th century legal papers. The link has been found!

This would be enough to make the book an exciting addition to science, but Macaulay has done more. He has included the diary entries themselves, from January through November 1504, as the lumber is chosen, hewn and constructed into the ship until its first voyage. The final entry states "All our ships, including Magdalena, are at the mercy of the Creator who made the great ocean . . . I hope and pray He looks favorably . . . that He will guide us safely back to this fair land."

The Magdalena (or those who truly sailed in triumph to explore the world) become a part of history through this magnificent book, "Ship." What did they look like and how were they designed? Macaulay provides careful research and speculation as explorer and researcher. As an author he combines two settings - the 16th century and today - in a blend of what can be found about the past. His careful attention to artistic details in the drawings and the creamy colored pages of the "diary" all add to the overall authentic format of the book.

Macaulay has received international acclaim for his books, ranging from architectural to children's fiction. His writing and art on construction - "Mill," "Motel of the Mysteries," "Unbuilding," "Castle," "Underground," "Pyramid," "City" and "Cathedral" - have been translated into several foreign languages. "Black and White" won the Caldecott Medal for 1991 and has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Commendation from the National Forum on Children's Science Books.

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"The Way Things Work" appeared on both adult and children's best-seller lists for more than a year after it was first published in 1988.

"Ship" brings honors to Macaulay as the first children's author to be selected for the Bradford Washburn Award, presented annually to "an individual who has made an outstanding contribution toward public understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in our lives."

Other recipients of this award include Capt. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Dr. Sally Ride, Brig. Gen. Charles Yeager, Dr. Carl Sagan, Dr. C. Everett Kopp, Dr. Jane Goodell and the National Geographic Society.

Walter Lorraine, editor, had this to say about Macaulay's work: "David's gift is that he can distill a lot of complex information into clear and accessible writing. His overriding concern even when dealing with facts is always about the human condition."

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