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Lifeboat 12

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,129 ratings  ·  405 reviews
This novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II.

With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship ou
Unknown Binding
Published September 4th 2018 by Simon & Schuster
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 ·  2,129 ratings  ·  405 reviews

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mindful.librarian ☀️
Thanks to Laura Gardner & Simon Kids for sharing this free review copy with me!
LIFEBOAT 12 is a phenomenal and impeccably-researched historical fiction in verse that releases on 9.4.18.
Based on a true story, Hood shares a tale that is filled with danger and adventure, told by a boy who is on a ship heading for Canada from England during WWII. The verse format is accessible and is perfect for the story ~ I will be purchasing multiple copies for both my elementary and middle school verse collect
Gabi Coatsworth
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic, gripping book - written in verse from the POV of a 13-year-old boy, Ken Sparks.
I bought the book because I'd actually heard of this story, when the City of Benares, the ship full of evacuee British children was torpedoed in the North Atlantic on its way to Canada in 1940.
Knowing it was written in verse, I didn't expect it to be as much of a page-turner as it proved to be. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it, so be warned - your child might too. Hood's research is t
Susan’s debut middle-grade novel packs a punch! Ken was one of the lucky children chosen to escape war in the bombing of London in 1940. On his way to Canada aboard a luxury ship, the unthinkable happens...the ship is torpedoed! Will Ken and the others survive on the small lifeboat they manage to escape on? Based on true events, and full of amazing historical back-matter, this novel-in-verse is hard to put down.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This book is based on the true story of Ken Sparks, a 13-year old boy, who is one of the evacuees from the London Blitz, on board the SS City of Benares when it is torpedoed by a German U-boat. One of the seminal questions of the book is whether you would rather be bombed at home in London or torpedoed at sea. Told from Ken's middle-grade perspective, he feels unloved by his stepmother and finds friends among his fellow evacuees. One of the unique things about this novel is that it is told in ve ...more
Kristen Picone
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I feel lucky to have received an ARC of this book! It’s hard to believe this is Susan’s MG debut. Told in verse, this is a hybrid text; part HF/part NF. It’s the gripping tale of Ken Sparks who, at 13, was one of 90 children chosen to leave London in 1940 aboard the City of Benares. The luxury liner was headed to Canada when it was torpedoed by a German u-boat. What happens to Ken and those aboard Lifeboat 12 is a piece of history I hadn’t known about. I’m thankful to Susan for writing this stor ...more
Sydney Bullard
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trimester-2
I enjoyed all of the suspense of this book when they were trapped in the Atlantic not knowing if they would live or die. Read it to find if they survie
Alex  Baugh
In the summer of 1940, as fear of a German invasion grew, the British government initiated a program called the Children's Overseas Reception Board, or CORB, which purpose was to evacuate British children from England and send them by ship to one of their (then) Dominion countries.

Lifeboat 12 follows the experience of one of the children chosen to be sent to Canada, a boy named Kenneth Sparks, 13, of Wembley in London, the son of working class parents. Kenneth, however, doesn't want to go, think
Reading is my Escape
This book is based on a true story of kids that were travelling on the SS City of Benares to Canada to escape the Nazi bombing of London. When the ship is torpedoed, Ken (13) and other survivors are left on Lifeboat 12 in the middle of the ocean. It's the little details in this book that make it so impactful. Ken was supposed to be on a different lifeboat, the young woman who makes up stories for the boys, the one sailor who acts crazy to make everyone laugh.
The story is told in verse, so I reco
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent telling of a little known part of WWII history. This book is told in poetry form which at first I found distracting, but later on I could see how well it helped with the pacing of the story. I greatly appreciated the last part of the book which tells the rest of the story in a non-fiction format.
Popsugar challenge 2019 advanced: A book with no chapters, unusual chapter headings, or unconventionally numbered chapters. (This book is broken up by dates and by poem titles neither of whi
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-books
Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood is a fantastic novel in verse. The book is based on the true story of Ken Sparks, an evacuee from the London Blitz, on board the SS City of Benares. Readers who love The War That Saved My Life will enjoy reading Ken's story.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think I will hide much of this review, because I am thinking that everything I wrote might be a spoiler. The book is historical fiction, though, so most of the facts are known.
(view spoiler)
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is historical fiction the way I like it -- heavy on facts and well-researched. The story is told in verse giving it a lighter tone yet not in an inappropriate way. The Appendix includes photos of the real Ken Sparks and other passengers who were rescued from Lifeboat 12. The book tells a story that is inspiring and insightful. This title is on the long list for the 2020-21 Mark Twain Awards. I really hope that this book is on the list when it comes out this spring!
Julia Bickford
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trimester-2
This book was really good, it was based on true life events. It’s about a boy who survived from the Nazis and about him staying in a lifeboat trying to stay alive. The boy is 13 years old and his name is ken. Also about the Nazis bombing London. After a few days out at sea the captain said they were safe but then it turned on his words. The end was really good. You would think that the ending was going to end badly but it actually ended perfectly. There was a life lesson at the end of this stor ...more
Noah Carpenter
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
lifeboat 12 was an interesting book. You got to find out what the struggle and how the characters fixed there problem and got out of there.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so nice. It really makes you think about how lucky you are to not be on a lifeboat for 8-9 days.
Kevin M.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Them the theme is that there is always a chance to beat the odds. But over all the book is very good and the author uses a good mix of real quotes and stories told by the survivors in interviews and in documents.
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Based on a true story, Lifeboat 12 tells the story of 13-year old Ken. Ken is sent with a group of children from London to Canada during World War 2 to escape the bombing. Everything is going well until his ship is torpedoed by a German submarine. Ken has to survive on lifeboat with 50 other people until they can be rescued.

Written in fast paced verse, this book is exciting and interesting. It is especially intriguing because it is based on a real story. It is well researched and I really enjoy
Keshav Mohta
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lifeboat 12 is set in England during the times of World War II. It is from the point of view of Ken Sparks, a 13-year old boy. He is one of the 90 children chosen to leave on a luxury cruise. The cruise was going to Canada away from the Nazi bombs.
Ken makes many friends while on his journey to Canada. His ship is part of a convoy of 18 ships accompanied by a destroyer ship. Aboard the cruise there are delicious nine-course meals, a play area, a nursery and a lot more facilities which Ken would n
Denise Chojnacki
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
Based on a true story, this book is a quick, fast-paced read that should entice readers of all levels. The book is written in vignettes and different angles of text that will be especially interesting to reluctant readers. The story includes wonderful themes of bravery, hope, and family. A great addition is the author's account of the interview she was able to do with Ken Sparks, the books main character, to obtain factual information for her version. The author also includes resources, quotes, ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a simple read, sparsely worded but weighty. Told from the POV of Ken Sparks, a real 13 year old boy, and using historically correct sources, the author tells the true story of a ship bound for Canada with 90 children escaping the war. A U Boat torpedoes the ship and Ken misses his lifeboat, number 8, and ends up on Lifeboat 12. The story is far too incredible to believe thus the author provides a very long list of sources used. It is an amazing experience that is well corroborated. One I ...more
Jillian Anderson
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating story that is based on true events. Written in free verse the story just flies! I finished this one in the blink of an eye. Ken’s father and stepmother sign him up to be evacuated from the city. Nightly the Nazis are bombing their town. When Ken boards the boat and meets his fellow travelers they feel they have entered heaven with the spread of food they can eat and the brand new toys in the common areas. But that luck changes quickly in the dead of night.

This book is perfect for hi
Tootie Nienow
Nonstop action and adventure to the very end. Susan's words bring Ken Sparks to life. I loved his honesty through Susan's words. Susan's verse structure is lovely. I couldn't put this book down, although I found myself pausing every few pages to take in Susan's lovely lyrics.
"packed together
like our lifeboat rations
of sardines in a can
we try to sleep."
So lovely.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent middle grade historical fiction based on a true event. Told in free verse!
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
AWESOME! It's a novel in verse - love that! Historical fiction - love that! The facts at the end of the novel are excellent. In all, a great book!
Mrs. Porter
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Novel in verse. A WWII story from England based on true events. Riveting. The author's style makes it seem as though you are there. A great pick for reluctant reader guys.
Elizabeth Keenan
Nov 27, 2019 rated it liked it
a little slow to start, but interesting. Love that it was based on a true story and that there are pictures of the people characters were based on, in the back of the book.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book that is inviting to readers (even reluctant readers). The fact that it is based on a true story makes it especially compelling.
Loved these images--p. 119 One man reserved, one man raucous. Neither much taller than me. Heroes both. p.161 Derek and Billy, holes in their hearts, ask again about their little brothers. p.217 Nagorski moves to each one in turn, and I see how one small kindness between strangers offers distraction from Death, who now occupies that empty seat on our boa
I always love historical fiction because I end up learning about things that I had no idea actually happened. I wasn't fully aware of the plan to evacuate children from England to other areas of the world during WWII, and I had never heard of the horrific tragedy that befell the SS City of Benares. The ship was torpedoed and even though they had all practiced the lifeboat drills, it wasn't enough to save all of them. Ken and some other boys end up in Lifeboat 12, along with various other crew me ...more
Sandy Brehl
Susan Hood's research and insistence on historic accuracy allow this historical fiction verse novel to resonate with depth of character and critical details. As a "story" it is both accessible and nearly overwhelming, made even more so when readers explore the backstory on her discovery of the events and pursuit of accurate details.
As he banknotes indicate, the spirals of significance of "thirteen" throughout are eerily incedible, but absolutely true. As she says, "You can't make that up!". Als
The Germans are coming. The Nazis have taken over France and the threat of bombs and destruction in London has every parent and adult quaking. Foreign countries, including Canada, reach out and seek to help, offering to take in children. Ken Sparks, 13, is one of the dubious “lucky” ones to set sail on the City of the Benares for Canada. Fear of torpedoes has every child alert to air raids and practices. Ken Sparks knows something about boats and airplanes. Now 600 miles away from England, every ...more
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I spent years getting to know little kids as a children's book and magazine editor at Sesame Workshop, Nick Jr. and Scholastic. Now I write children's picture books full time. Best job ever!

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