Monday, November 4, 2019

Review: Ned the Nuclear Submarine by Demetri Capetanopoulos

by Demetri Capetanopoulos
Proving Press
Picture Book 
36 pages
ages 4 to 10

Ned the Nuclear Submarine is a story about overcoming fears, both real and imagined, to enable discovery and growth. Seldom featured in a children's book, the fascinating world of a submarine is introduced in a way that is both realistic and yet accessible, drawing upon my personal experiences as a U.S. Navy Submarine Officer. We journey with Ned on an epic voyage around the world that unfurls in rhyme, with true-to-life images and events taken from history.


Learning to conquer fear sails along with fun moments, an exciting adventure and tons to learn as well as a little history. It's a great mix and includes a theme not often seen.

Lovingly illustrated with colored pencils, this book packs more than expected. First, there's the story about Ned. He's fun to root for as he heads out his first time into the huge ocean and discovers things he's never seen before. This entire big adventure scares him a bit too. Young listeners and readers will have no problem connecting with him as he explores the world and discovers animals and so much more. The fun tale alone makes it a great read...especially since there's enough fun sprinkled in that readers are sure to smile (and even giggle) every now and then.

There are several great messages in this book, which young readers can never hear enough about. Everyone is nervous about doing something new at one time or another, and this story hits upon this fear in an inspiring way. It also shows how exciting new things can be.

The writing in the book is done in a beautiful, more free-style poetic form. This was fun to read, and although sometimes unexpected in flow, works nicely. The words are clearly written—a plus when using it as a read-aloud. While some of the concepts might be a bit high for the younger end of the age group, older ones are sure to learn something too. The illustrations not only add to the story, but also help out on the technical end. These are well done, and it's clear the author not only knows what he's talking about but does it from the heart. As an added bonus, there are real photos of submarines at the back of the book as well as short glimpses into the historical events the book weaves around.

This is a lovely mix which takes fiction, fun and brings in history and the workings of nuclear submarines too. For the right reader, it's a great read.