Author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell

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More commentary on Raising La Belle...

“The sailing ship La Belle was used in the 1600’s in the beleagured Fort St. Louis settlement’s attempt to escape. But when La Belle sank, the ship’s occupants found themselves stranded and then threatened by hostile Indians…In 1995 the Texas Historical discovered the sunken La Belle and set to work extracting it and its cargo. The result of their labors and the amazingly preserved relics of American history fill the pages of this fascinating, informative and highly recommended account, which is enhanced with black and white artwork.
James Cox, Editor-in-chief
The Midwest Book Review
“Mitchell’s well-researched and written book tells two stories: The archaeological investigation of the shipwreck and the circumstances of Texas history that got it there. In addition, he did his own inviting pen and ink drawings..
“For the kids, the book offers a nice combination of adventure and learning.”
Mike Cox, Texana
Austin American-Statesman

“By interweaving the two histories, Mitchell suggests the curiosity, courage and pure cussedness that drove the French explorers in the 17th century continues with those who search for their remnants and seek to put together their stories through material evidence.
“The book has a number of strengths. One is its structure, the interweaving of the two periods to suggest the similarities between the 17th and 20th century explorations. The drawings and photographs provide additional information and in many cases evoke a sense of place, whether it is 17th century or 20th.”
“….The 17th century explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was a fascinating man, determined to better his fortunes and reputations by claiming as much land as possible for France. Because of his impetuous nature and unwillingness to listen to the advice of others, La Salle’s career suffered many setbacks and ended with his being murdered by members of his own group. Mitchell’s book gives a hint of the conflicted and paradoxical nature of the man and provides insight into the trials and difficulties of 17th century exploration as well.
“The work of archeologists who rediscovered elements of La Salle’s voyage to find the mouth of the Mississippi River is equally gripping. Mitchell establishes the thrill of first finding the evidence of where La Belle might be resting. The sections of the book on the archeological dig include the techniques used to dig down through the layers of the ship, the artifacts found, as well as some of the setbacks and close calls.”
“For all the strengths this book has, there are also weaknesses. The description of the fascinating cofferdam created around the dig site leaves out some important information about the dual wall construction. A diagram explaining latitude and longitude assumes readers know the significance of those two terms …”
Teya Rosenberg
Texas Books in Review 
"In 1995, Texas State marine archeologists discovered the first artifact of the sunken ship La Belle. This ship, once owned by the French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was buried deep beneath the waters of Matagorda Bay. This body of water, located on the east coast of Texas, became the site for one of the most exciting shipwreck discoveries in the 20th century. La Salle dedicated his life to pioneering new land for France. He naturally gravitated towards the ways of the wilderness and the life of the native Indians living within it. La Salle learned from the Seneca Iroquois of a water passageway that led from the Great Lakes, to the Gulf of Mexico and finally to the “lucrative Orient” (a hypothesis that would later be negated.)  The mission to find the Mississippi, the infamous passageway and its delta was successful. However the return to it with 250 pioneers, supplies and materials for colonizing was not. La Salle never found the river again, sinking ships and losing his life in the process. The book gives a detailed and exciting account while at the same time detailing the excavation of the sunken La Belle…”
Andrea Sears Andrews, Children’s Literature Reviews
Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database  (


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The cofferdam

Content Copyright 1998-2007 by Mark G. Mitchell, Carus Publishing, Cobblestone Publishing Group, Eakin Press, David R. Godine Publisher, For Kids Sake Press
Austin, Texas - U.S. - 78759
Phone 512.258-8348