Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert Hardcover – Aug 30 2011
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“Aronson marks the one-year anniversary of the collapse of a Chilean copper mine that entombed miners for more than two months with a riveting, in-depth recounting of the events that held the world rapt… Twelve short chapters with photos and diagrams keep the story well-paced as it alternates between above- and below-ground scenes, detailing the heroic efforts of the trapped men, their waiting families, and their rescuers, sometimes on an hour-by-hour basis. Extensive author and source notes, a bibliography, and suggested reading leave plenty for readers to explore.”
--Publishers Weekly, June 13, 2011, *STAR
“Leave it to Aronson…. Photographs, maps, diagrams and a wild range of literary references, from Merlin to Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Hephaistos, enliven the volume. The author uses these familiar touch points to help tell a complicated story, blending them with such highly technical information as mining machinery to keep his narrative flowing.”
--Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2011
“Masterful storytelling brings to life a story that most think they already know; the 33 miners trapped in a Chilean copper mine for 69 days in 2010…. It was a gripping story then, and Aronson manages to make it even more exciting, more inspirational, and more personal, all by gathering pieces of the puzzle and showing how they fit together. Explanations of how the Earth’s formation and plate tectonics created the copper lines that are so valuable to the world today are a critical beginning. Filling them in with a brief history of metalworking and mining leads readers to the small, out-of-the-way mine in the Atacama Desert region. From there the story becomes as intriguing and suspenseful as any work of fiction; the miners’ struggle to survive below ground is juxtaposed with the frenzy of the work aboveground by the mine officials, the government, and many others working to save the men. Detailed descriptions of the conditions that the miners endured and how they coped paint a vivid picture of just what an ordeal it was. The global response to the disaster was enormous, with organizations, governments, and individuals from Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Japan offering resources and expertise to find a solution. Ample source notes, black-and-white photographs, websites, and a brief explanation of research methodology round out this must-have for any library.”
--School Library Journal, August 2011, *STAR
“Much more than just a chronicle of the Chilean mining disaster of 2010, Aronson’s well-researched and riveting book gives readers the sense that they’re in the San José copper mine…Peppered with engaging quotes, the text is fluid and attention-grabbing.”
--The Horn Book Magazine, August 1, 2011, *STAR
“There’s something here to rivet just about anyone, from gearheads who follow the approaches to drilling, to humanists who empathize with the trapped men and their anxious families, to nascent activists who recognize that behind the heroics lies a corrupt, neglectful system of mine operation that endangers workers to maximize profit. Students using this title as a foundation for a written report will appreciate the annotated sourcing, timeline, index, glossary, and perhaps most important, the motherlode of useful websites. Teachers and librarians might also want to direct their students’ attention to Aronson’s appended essay on how he conducted his own Internet-based research.”
--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 2011
“Aronson zips readers through a whirlwind primer….The succinct text is enhanced by a strong selection of photographs, illustrations, and diagrams, all of which help make the abstract technical issues clear. The remainder of the book is structured in a riveting day-by-day, “above-and-below” account of the rescuers’ struggle to locate survivors and bring them to the surface. Well-chosen quotes and interviews humanize the headlines, and Aronson’s dramatic writing achieves a sense of taut suspense that will captivate young readers. The extensive back matter includes biographical sketches of the miners, as well as a glossary, time line, bibliography, and list of suggested websites. Teachers will welcome this excellent title for classroom discussion, which closes with Aronson’s “How I Wrote This Book,” detailing his research methods.”
--Booklist, September 2011, *STAR
“Nonfiction the way it is meant to be—riveting, educational, and entertaining! Aronson not only does a fine job of chronicling both the physical and mental ordeals the Chilean miners faced, but explains how the problem occurred, provides historical background, and details the various participants in the rescue attempts…fascinating reading!.... Give this to students who don’t think they like nonfiction. Those that love history, geology, survival stories, scientific exploration, or even mythology will definitely enjoy it.”
--Library Media Connection, November/December 2011
“Aronson delivers a captivating account of the mine collapse…[and] crafts vivid portraits of the miners’ experiences underground, as well as those of the families and countrymen breathlessly awaiting their safe return.”
--Publishers Weekly, November 7, 2011, a "Best Books of 2011" selection
About the Author
Marc Aronson is the author of the critically acclaimed Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, winner of the ALA’s first Robert L. Sibert Information Book Award for nonfiction and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. He has won the LMP Award for editing and has a Ph.D. in American history from NYU. He lives with his wife and son in Maplewood, New Jersey.See all Product Description
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The collapse of a San Jose mine on August 5, 2010 wasn't anything the world hadn't seen before. Mines collapse all the time. It's a dangerous occupation. The difference here, of course, was the fact that the 33 men trapped 2,300 feet underground were still alive. Suddenly the world was riveted by their story. Would the rescuers be able to find them? And even if they did, how would they get them out? Backmatter to this true tale includes brief biographies of each of the thirty-three miners, a Timeline, a Glossary of Names and Terms, a word on "The World of the Miner" by a miner, a note to students, Notes and Sources, a Bibliography, a list of interviewed subjects, Useful Websites, and an Index.
A good work of nonfiction for kids makes you want to keep reading, even when you know the outcome. When I pick up a book like Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming, I love that I feel like there may be a chance that they'll find Ms. Earhardt this time. Similarly, when I read Trapped I have to feel like there's a chance that they won't rescue the miners this time. Indeed there were several moments when it really seemed as though the miners wouldn't be found. Aronson parcels out this tension, knowing better than to fill the narrative with foreshadowing or some kind of false narrative technique. And like Fleming's book he makes sure to tell two different stories at once. We are both with the miners and with the rescuers as the tale unfolds.
Mr. Aronson is a fan of context. It isn't enough to know that this story takes place 2,000 feet below the Chilean Desert. He must show you how that desert was formed. And it isn't enough to simply know that these men were farmers of items like copper. He's inclined to give you the very history of copper itself, going so far as to tie it into scenes from The Lightning Thief or Harry Potter (sometimes inexplicably). For me, these sidenotes distracted from the larger (and more interesting) story. I know why Aronson has included them, but most of this information appears at the beginning of the book in a big lump. I would have preferred it to be integrated evenly throughout the text. That way a sentence like, "Today, the average American uses sixteen pounds of copper a year" will have the adequate oomph it deserves.
Aronson writes for both child and teen readers, and you're never quite certain which he'll write for next. In this particular case he's made certain that this book would appeal to kids as well as those in the throes of adolescence. Of course, to do that he has to tiptoe around some interesting issues. I didn't follow the disaster very closely when it was occurring back in 2010, but one thing I do remember is hearing that one of the miners had the awkward problem of being visited via the hole by both his wife and his mistress. You'll find no mention of that fact in this book. There are points where the men resolve to become better people when they leave the mine, and there's a point where Aronson condemns the sordid stories that the press indulged in at times, regarding the miners' personal lives as nothing more than tabloid fodder. Nothing sordid makes it onto these pages, though. Later we read an account of the items that were lowered to the miners. Amongst the listed objects is "a picture of a pretty girl". Call me dirty minded, but it is possible that picture was more than just that. It doesn't matter, though. That's not the story that's being told here.
At the end of Trapped Aronson includes a section called "How I Wrote This Book: And what I learned that could be useful for students writing research reports (and a couple of last thoughts from men I interviewed). The section distinguishes nicely between original research and merely trolling the web. The book certainly works as an example of how to do research, but I suspect that the primary readers will be those kids eaten up by curiosity. How does a person survive for months under the ground? How do you fight off the claustrophobia? And how do you rescue someone if you can't quite get a lock on where precisely they are? Trapped seeks to answer all these questions and, in doing so, satisfies a variety of different kinds of readers. If you're looking for an account of recent history with a happy ending (no small feat no matter what the year) seek ye no further. This, as they say, is it.
Ages 10 and up
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