Iron Thunder: the Battle Between the Monitor and the Merrimac
is the first book in the I Witness series. Avi describes the I Witness
series as “exciting stories about fictional young people during real events in history.” The narrator’s character is loosely based on Tom Carroll, a real boy who served on the Monitor during the Civil War. The book blends a war story with historic photographs and newspaper headlines, diagrams and period-style illustrations.
Tom is driven to work in the Union shipyards when his father is killed in the Civil War. He’s assigned to work on a new type of ship– the ironclad Monitor. Despite the public skepticism, Tom soon comes to believe in the odd looking ship. Tom is a sympathetic character who finds courage and loyalty in the face of povery and war. The historic “battle of the ironclads” was not really a decisive victory for either ship, but ushered in a new era in naval warfare. Older elementary students will absorb some history while following the story. The language is authentic, but not too stilted to be appealing.