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post written by Emma Filbrun

Title: Ship
Author: David Macaulay
Major Themes: Archaeology, Architecture, Engineering, Exploration, Ships
Synopsis: With text and color paintings, the story of a ship’s building, loss and rediscovery is told, as a typical example of Spanish treasure ships.

Some thirty years ago, my sisters and I discovered David Macaulay’s books about architecture and engineering. I have always loved them, so recently began collecting them for my children. I had never read Ship before, so enjoyed getting to explore a new one.

This book begins with an underwater archaeological dig, as a team discovers a wrecked ship in the Bahamas. With permission from the Cherubian government, they excavate what is left after treasure hunters make a mess of the site. They map every artifact they find carefully, and protect them from deterioration so they can be studied later. After each of five seasons of digging, they go to the lab to continue their studies.

At the end of the digging time, someone finds documents in Spain, including a diary of the building of a caravel. They figured that it was the same ship they had found wrecked. The diary entries and color paintings (different from his older books, which have all line drawings) tell the story of the building and launch of the ship. Taken all together, this book tells a complete story of the building, sinking, and rediscovery of a Spanish treasure ship. We enjoyed it, and although it didn’t fit in to what we are studying for history right now, it would be a good addition to the study of the Age of Exploration.

WARNING: Page 78: I swear

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15


Links to buy Ship:

Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover

AbeBooks: View Choices on


Archaeology, Architecture, Engineering, Exploration, Ships, Central America

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