Surviving the Hindenburg

On May 6, 1937, the giant German airship the Hindenburg was destroyed by fire as it attempted to land at Lakehurst Naval Base in New Jersey. Of the 93 people on board, a remarkable 62 survived, including Werner Franz, the ship's 14-year-old cabin boy. In Surviving the Hindenburg, writer Larry Verstraete recounts young Werner's story of the airship's final voyage. Through Werner's memories young readers will explore the inner workings of the giant airship, marvel at the breathtaking vistas from its observation windows, and hold their breath during Werner's terrifying escape from the fiery devastation. "My mind didn't start working again until I was on the ground," Werner said later. "Then I started running." Captured in detailed, dramatic artwork, the story of the doomed airship comes alive for readers and history buffs of all ages. Larry Verstraete's book, S is for Scientists: A Discovery Alphabet, was named a 2011 Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students by the National Science Teachers Association. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. David Geister's work has been featured in The History Channel Magazine. His books include B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
$16.95 $16.95
$28.95 $28.95
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level
Dewey 363.12
ATOS Reading Level 5.5
Guided Reading Level
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585367870), PDF (9781410310040), Hosted ebook (9781627534802)
Copyright 2012, 2014
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 9 x 11
Graphics Full-color illustrations
  • New York State Reading Assoc. Charlotte Award Ballot--Middle School Category, Short-listed, 2014
  • Alberta's Rocky Mountain Book Award, Short-listed, 2014
  • 2014 Story Telling World Resource Award - Adolescent Listeners, Commended, 2014
  • McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award, Short-listed, 2014
  • Children's Choices List, Short-listed, 2013
  • Parent's Choice Foundation Recommended Book, Commended, 2012
  • USA Best Book Awards--Hardcover Non-Fiction Category Finalist, Runner-up, 2012
  • 2012 USA Best Book Award Finalist - Children's Picture Book - Hardcover Non-Fiction, Short-listed, 2012

A Review of "Surviving the Hindenburg" in School Library Journal

Gr 1-4–The story of the disaster is told through the eyes of the last surviving member of the crew, Werner Franz, who was only 14 at the time of the crash. He was a cabin boy aboard the luxury airship and moved freely about the zeppelin as he completed his regular duties. On May 6, 1937, attempting to land on a New Jersey airfield, the Hindenburg caught fire and the hydrogen-filled cells were immediately engulfed in flames. Young Werner was saved by a soaking from a burst water tank and narrowly escape the inferno. This picture-book biography provides an exciting introduction to the bygone days before airplanes were a viable option for crossing the Atlantic. While the information provided about the Hindenburg and airships is brief, the story is punctuated with descriptive details, and readers may be encouraged to seek out more in-depth sources. The writing is straightforward, but with enough suspense and buzz to keep students interested. The accompanying paintings, with their slightly subdued colors, adequately depict the drama as it unfolds. A solid addition to real-life disaster collections.

A Review of "Surviving the Hindenburg" in Booklist

The 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster is a good chance to rope in discussion of the 1937 explosion of the Hindenburg, which, as Verstraete’s foreword details, was nearly as long as the Titanic and intended to be “the world’s first flying hotel.” Told from the point of view of the youngest crew member, 14-yearold cabin-boy Werner Franz, this is an effectively claustrophobic insider story. Werner is depicted walking through the fascinatingly narrow inner passageways of the zeppelin and gazing out at Manhattan’s “ocean of buildings far and wide.” From Werner’s viewpoint, the explosion is utter confusion—in less than a minute, he is plunged into a fiery nightmare illustrated by Geister as a hellish world of churning smoke and buckling metal. Throughout, the prose is level-headed and calm, which might allay reader fears, even as it feels a bit incongruous. The limited perspective keeps the grandeur of the crash at bay until the final paintings, where Werner cowers before the crumbling ship. There is no bibliography, but the closing author’s note is fantastic.

Surviving the Hindenburg - Teaching Guide

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Author: Larry Verstraete

Larry Verstraete, a native Manitoban, grew up in the French Quarter of Winnipeg, a stone’s throw from the Golden Boy. A former teacher, he now spends his time writing, visiting young readers in schools and libraries, and presenting at conferences and festivals. Larry’s first picture book was G is for Golden Boy: A Manitoba Alphabet, and his eighth book for young people.

Illustrator: David Geister

Artist Dave Geister tells stories through his historical paintings and costumed storytelling. He enjoys doing school visits almost as much as painting children’s book illustrations. Teachers and librarians often comment on the rapport that Dave establishes with children and staff and how he encourages them to do their art.Dave is married to Pat Bauer, author of his most recent book B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet.

Full-color illustrations