This is a book review of Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

What is a great historical fiction book for elementary and middle school kids?


Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood is!

What would you do if you thought a coat caused you to lose your life?

Ken Sparks lives in England with his father, his sister, and his very mean stepmother. Ken does not think he has a very good life. His family is very poor so that means that he wears clothes that don’t fit and they have very little food. Ken one day discovers a letter in the mail with his name on it. The letter states that Ken will be shipped off to Canada with 89 other children. Ken thinks this is his evil stepmom’s way of getting rid of him – one less mouth to feed and one less person to clothe. Actually, this is the beginning of World War 2 and the Germans are bombing England. His parents actually applied for him to get out of the country to keep him safe until the war was over.

Ken is living the best life!

On the way to the ship, Ken finds out that one of his best friends, Terry, will be on this adventure with him. Once aboard the ship, the children realize how great it is going to be – all the food they want to eat and brand new toys. They are living the high life. What could go wrong? They have a fleet of ships surrounding them to protect them.

Day 5

Ken and the other children have been doing disaster drills and wearing life vests all day and night. They are prepared in case anything happens. Ken knows that his lifeboat is number 8. If the alarm sounds, he is to go straight to Lifeboat 8 to get to safety. On day 5 they realize that they are far enough away from the war and the Germans so they relax. The ship is no longer guarded by the Royal Navy and the children are allowed to sleep without their life vests. This proved to be deadly. In the middle of the night, the Germans torpedoed the ship that Ken and his friends were on.

All because of a coat.

When their ship was struck the kids knew what to do. They all fled to their assigned lifeboats. Ken was on his way but he remembered the expensive coat that his stepmom bought him just before he left. He knew if he went back home without the coat he would be in a lot of trouble. After he retrieved his coat, Ken runs to get to his lifeboat, only to find that Lifeboat 8 is already gone. In a panic, Ken doesn’t have a clue what to do when an officer calls out to him that Lifeboat 12 has room for him.

Live or die?

Read this incredible true story of Ken and the other passengers that were afloat on Lifeboat 12. I thought it was incredible how they rationed the food and water aboard the lifeboat. It was incredible how they managed to keep each other’s spirits up when they were at their lowest. And, it was incredible how the one and only female in the lifeboat managed to keep the 6 children (and even the adults) captivated just by the stories that she told. Read this heart-stopping, action-packed true story to see who lives and who dies!


Why I love this book!

I can not even put into words how much I loved this story! This was a true story written in verse that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The main part of the book is written in fiction form and the end of the book has real pictures and a documentary of the actual events. It is so amazing to see the actual photos from the people on the ship and even them later on in life.


Don’t miss this one!


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Hi! I'm Laurie!

I am a book loving librarian with a passion for getting the right book into the hand of a child so that they will develop a love of reading! I live in Hoover, AL with my husband, Lee, and my dog, Holly.

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