Pequot Library holds book release reception for Lifeboat 12

Susan Hood

Susan Hood

Pequot Library hosts a book release reception in celebrating the release of award-winning children’s author and Southport resident Susan Hood’s new book, Lifeboat 12 on Thursday, Sept. 13, from 7-8:30 p.m. The book is based on a little-known story of the sinking of the SS City of Benares, a ship whose mission was to transport British children to Canada during the Blitz of World War II.

Lifeboat 12 is a novel told in verse. In 1940, on a transatlantic crossing, the SS City of Benares was torpedoed by the Nazis 600 miles offshore. Thirty minutes later, it sank. Six boys (ages 9-13), one woman, one priest, one Polish businessman, and 37 sailors escaped aboard Lifeboat 12 and attempted to sail home. On the eighth day at sea, the day their water would run out, 13-year-old Ken Sparks spotted the plane that saved them all.  

In her presentation, Hood will show photographs of this true event and reveal how she discovered the story in the childhood letters of her British mother-in-law, longtime Southport resident Nancy Kueffner. (Kueffner herself was a child evacuee during the Blitz who escaped on a different ship.) Hood traveled to England to research Lifeboat 12 at the National Archives, the British Library, and the Maritime Museum and to interview the real Ken Sparks and other “boys,” now in their 80s and 90s.

There will be a 30- to 40-minute author talk followed by a reception with the author, book sales, and a signing. It is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be served.

Hood is the award-winning author of more than 200 books for young readers, including Ada’s Violin and Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. She is the recipient of the 2017 E.B. White Read-Aloud Picture Book Honor Award, the 2017 Christopher Award, and Bank Street’s 2017 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award. Prior to becoming a full-time author, Hood was the Children’s Content Director at Nick Jr. Magazine and a children’s book editor at Sesame Workshop and magazine editor at Scholastic.

She grew up in Greenwich and Southport, Connecticut, graduating from Greens Farms Academy and Smith College. When not writing, Hood spends summers sailing with her husband at Pequot Yacht Club. Sailing trips to Tortola (British Virgin Islands), Bermuda, and around Maine have made Hood all too familiar with ocean storms and trouble at sea. Those experiences informed Hood’s debut middle-grade novel, Lifeboat 12, published this fall by Simon & Schuster. You can visit her website at

Pequot Library’s public programs are supported in part by the Town of Fairfield.

For more information, visit or call 203-259-0346, ext. 116. Follow Pequot Library on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

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