Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Review: New England’s Stormalong: A Tall Tale

New England’s Stormalong: A Tall Tale
By: Louis Arthur Norton
Published by: Tate Publishing and Enterprises, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-60696-005-9
Price: $7.99
Ages 8-10
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Who is New England’s answer to Minnesota’s Paul Bunyan and Texas’s Pecos Bill?  Why, it’s Albert “Stormalong” Bulltop, known affectionately as Stormie.  Author Louis Arthur Norton retells the story of this maritime legend who was born one stormy night to fisherman Barney Bulltop and his wife Beatrice of Gloucester, MA.  Stormie grew so big and so fast that his cradle was a fisherman’s dory.  After learning how to build boats, Stormie went to sea and had many adventures, first as a fisherman, then as a whaler, as a navy sailor, and finally as a merchant seaman on the Sea Eagle.  But what did he have to do with the waves at Good Harbor Beach, the spring potholes on New England’s roads, the phrase “loose cannon,” and the Northern Lights?
The United States doesn’t have as long a tradition of myths and folk legends as do European cultures, but in our short history, we’ve come up with some pretty good tall tales.  I had never heard of Stormalong before, but a little research shows that he’s been a popular character in stories along the North Atlantic coast for many years, dating back to nineteenth-century sea chanteys.  Norton even theorizes that he may have shown Paul Bunyan how to cut down trees and Pecos Bill how to paint the desert.  Those who purchase a copy of the book can go to the publisher’s website, click the e/LIVE logo, punch in the coupon code in the back of the book, and hear a recording of the story free of charge.  Children will love reading or hearing Stormalong’s adventures, and anyone interested in studying American folklore will find them fascinating.  In addition, there is a lot of interesting information about ships, the sea, and sailing woven in.  New England’s Stormalong is a fun read!

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