Barton, Chris. Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion. Minnneapolis: Millbrook Press, 2017.
Why paint ships in eye-catching patterns? Why use striking colours? To confuse the enemy. German submarines were attacking British ships during the first World War. Not only warships but also ships bringing food to the island nation. A quiet unassuming lieutenant-commander came up with an idea: paint ships in bold colours and patterns that make it difficult to discern the speed and direction of travel. The German torpedoes would be less likely to hit the British ships. In 1917, the project began and by the end of the war in 1918, almost 3,000 British ships and over 1200 American ships had been painted in dazzling designs.
This fascinating picture book – illustrated by award-winning Victo Ngai – is beautifully designed. The style and size of the font complements the tone of the story and the brilliance of the artwork. Additional information – including a timeline and bibliography – is included at the end of the book. The rhythm of the story makes it wonderful for reading aloud but this children’s book is highly recommended for readers of any age interested in art and the history of war.
P.S. The author’s note includes information on the research process which would be useful for middle-school students. “Research done right does not merely confirm what you expect to see — it will show things you had not anticipated.”