Dazzle Ships

World War I and the Art of Confusion

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5   ·  
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

A visually stunning look at innovative and eye-popping measures used to protect ships during World War I.

During World War I, British and American ships were painted with bold colors and crazy patterns from bow to stern. Why would anyone put such eye-catching designs on ships?

Desperate to protect ships from German torpedo attacks, British lieutenant-commander Norman Wilkinson proposed what became known as dazzle. These stunning patterns and colors were meant to confuse the enemy about a ship’s speed and direction. By the end of the war, more than four thousand ships had been painted with these mesmerizing designs.

Author Chris Barton and illustrator Victo Ngai vividly bring to life this little-known story of how the unlikely and the improbable became just plain dazzling.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
$19.99 $14.99
$30.65 $22.99
Interest Level Grade 2 - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 4
Genre Nonfiction, Picture Books
Subject Social Studies
Copyright 2017
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Millbrook Press ™
Language English
Number of Pages 36
Publication Date 2017-09-01
BISACS JNF025130, JNF057020, JNF025210
Dewey 940.4/5941
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 990
Guided Reading Level W
ATOS Reading Level 6.1
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 189562
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Original artwork, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, and Timeline


  • North Carolina Children's Book Award Nominee, Short-listed, 2019
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2018
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2018
  • ALA Notable Children's Books, Winner, 2018
  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Winner, 2018
  • Cybils Finalist, Nominated, 2018
  • Writers' League of Texas Book Award, Winner, 2017
  • Orbis Pictus Award Honor, Short-listed, 2017
  • Dilys Evans Founder’s Award, Winner, 2017
  • New York Public Library Best Books for Kids, Winner, 2017
  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Winner, 2017


The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Barton’s lively text is matched by Ngai’s engrossing artwork, which employs dazzle techniques throughout her inventive spreads.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Shelf Awareness

“Chris Barton and Victo Ngai’s Dazzle Ships gives young readers an introduction to World War I in a clever and colorful way.”—Shelf Awareness

School Library Journal

“The well-written, intriguing text is complemented by Ngai’s vibrant and surreal illustrations. . . . With the commemoration of the centenary of World War I, this book is a fascinating selection that will captivate readers, especially war story enthusiasts.”—starred, School Library Journal


“[An] inspiring story of creativity.”—Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“[A] conversational, compelling, and visually arresting story . . .”—starred, Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“[A] fascinating volume about a little-known side of the war. An eye-catching title sure to dazzle.”—Kirkus Reviews

Author: Chris Barton

Chris Barton, author of bestseller Shark vs. Train and nonfiction books The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, The Nutcracker Comes to America, and The Day-Glo Brothers, lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.

Illustrator: Victo Ngai

Victo Ngai is a Los Angeles-based illustrator from Hong Kong. "Victo" is neither a boy nor a typo, but a nickname derived from Victoria—a leftover from the British colonization.

Ngai's work has appeared in books, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, and animations. Among her many clients are The New York Times, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, General Electric, Lufthansa, Johnnie Walker, Apple, IMAX, MTA Art and Design, McDonald's, and Tor Forge.

Ngai has received numerous honors, including Forbes 30 Under 30, The Society of News Design, The Society of Publications Designers, Communication Arts, Spectrum Fantastic, and the Society of Illustrators of New York. She's a current nominee for the Hugo, Locus, and Chesley awards.