All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

by Christina Soontornvat (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

A unique account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a heart-racing, you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight.

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon's adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a seventeen-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe.

As the world sits vigil, people begin to wonder: how long can a group of ordinary kids survive in complete darkness, with no food or clean water? Luckily, the Wild Boars are a very extraordinary "ordinary" group.

Combining firsthand interviews of rescue workers with in-depth science and details of the region's culture and religion, author Christina Soontornvat--who was visiting family in Northern Thailand when the Wild Boars went missing--masterfully shows how both the complex engineering operation above ground and the mental struggles of the thirteen young people below proved critical in the life-or-death mission. Meticulously researched and generously illustrated with photographs, this page-turner includes an author's note describing her experience meeting the team, detailed source notes, and a bibliography to fully immerse readers in the most ambitious cave rescue in history.


Starred Review
Soontornvat selects details and measures her pacing with the practiced hand of a master storyteller, and while everything is supported by meticulous research, the prose never suffers from information density; rather, every aside--whether on hypothermia, ketamine, or Navy SEAL training--adds tension through understanding. Readers who already know the outcome will nonetheless be enthralled by this singular tale that captures the importance of STEM education, the beauty of Thailand, and the best of humanity--collaboration, innovation, sacrifice, family, and love.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
An in-depth account of a harrowing real-life mission that succeeds against all odds...Masterful storytelling fleshes out the complex human emotions behind key decisions, illuminates diplomatic and political negotiations, and underscores an unwavering faith--in maintaining hope and in harnessing powers of the mind. Thoughtfully researched, expertly crafted.

Horn Book Magazine

Starred Review
In lucid prose written in third-person-present tense for a heightened sense of immediacy, Soontornvat gives readers a journalistic account of the difficulty and complexity of the rescue effort. Using interviews and other primary sources, she keeps a tight focus on the unfolding story, with its inherent edge-of-your-seat, heart-in-your-throat drama, adroitly juggling a parade of characters, clearly laying out the technical and engineering challenges, and judiciously parsing out expository information in the occasional sidebar.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 4-7--In 2018, 12 members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their assistant coach were trapped in a cave for 18 days. It was a stunning and miraculous story that captivated the world. On June 23, 2018, the team and their assistant coach decided to hike through the caverns of Tham Luang Nang Non, the Cave of the Sleeping Lady. However, when they tried to leave, they discovered that the cave was flooded and they were trapped. Soontornvat's narrative nonfiction account shares these events and those that led to the rescue along with intricate details about caverns, sump diving, and other scientific details that emphasize the harrowing conditions of the rescue. She also touches on Thai culture, immigration issues, Buddhism, and religion. The main rescuers and their heroic efforts are highlighted, but Soontornvat also showcases stories of the Thai volunteers who had a huge impact on the rescue. Full-color photographs, maps, illustrations, and graphs are included throughout the text. The author, who is Thai American, was in northern Thailand visiting family when the story first broke. Her author's note features background information about interviewing the people involved with the rescue and meeting the Wild Boars team. Extensive source notes are included as well as a bibliography, image credits, and an index. VERDICT This stellar nonfiction work reads like a heart-pounding adventure story. Every library should have a copy.--V. Lynn Christiansen, Wiley International Studies Magnet Elem. Sch., Raleigh, NC

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

In her nonfiction debut, Soontornvat (Simon at the Art Museum) presents a well-researched, comprehensive look at the 2018 rescue of the Wild Boars juvenile soccer team from Thailand's flooded Tham Luang Nang Non cave. Full-color photographs and spotlighted sections introduce the 12 tight-knit players and assistant coach, the Thai officials, the rescue divers, and other volunteers who stayed for the nine days it took to safely recover all 13 trapped members. Relayed in the present tense in a documentary-style tone, the 31 short chapters move along at a riveting pace, effectively conveying emotion and sensory details and thoroughly investing the reader in the outcome. Maps and other relevant information, including how "A Cave Is Born," "Rules to Dive By," and "Thailand's Stateless People," provide more depth and background, while insight into Thailand's culture and climate helps illustrate the serious challenges overcome by the internationally diverse group in order to accomplish the seemingly impossible rescue. Soontornvat delivers humanizing coverage of a harrowing event, attempting to decenter Western media's lens with great success. Back matter includes an author's note and a bibliography. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"The term page-turner gets tossed around a lot, but All Thirteen is the real deal. Even if you think you know this story, you won't be able to stop reading."
—Steve Sheinkin, award-winning author of Bomb and Undefeated

"All Thirteen is one of the best middle-grade nonfiction books that I have ever read. Even though I knew how this story was going to end, I found myself captivated from beginning to end. Christina Soontornvat did a marvelous job bringing this inspiring rescue to young readers."
—Colby Sharp, cofounder of Nerdy Book Club

"A nonfiction marvel."
—Minh Lê, award-winning author of Drawn Together 

Soontornvat masterfully chronicles this amazing undertaking, in which incredible ad hoc feats of engineering became commonplace. Her narration and the testimonies of the numerous figures she interviewed are suspenseful and deeply felt. Interspersed with All Thirteen's gripping account are fascinating, accessible analyses - supplemented by photos, diagrams, maps and more - of the cultural, technological, scientific and spiritual considerations that affected the rescue effort, from Buddhism to climate change to political protocol...All Thirteen is an inspiring testament to those 18 fateful days of communal empathy, determination and hope. In Soontornvat's talented hands, it's at once a nail-biter and a revelation: "This rescue was impossible, and they did it anyway."
—BookPage (starred review) 

Soontornvat's narrative moves smoothly between those stranded deep within the cave (which eventually included four rescuers who chose to stay with them), local and national officials whose competence and reputation were at stake, and diverse teams of recruits and volunteers, whose energy and goodwill sometimes exceeded their effectiveness...Most spreads feature at least one color photograph or a schematic of a cave or recovery system; well-placed insets add cultural and scientific notes. An author note remarks on Soontornvat's research and personal experiences, and annotated source notes, a bibliography, and index will also be provided.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Christina Soontornvat
Joanna Cacao is a Canadian-Filipino artist and illustrator who lives in Winnipeg with her Pomeranian, Danny. She loves working on magical and fantastical stories. Growing up in front of a TV, Joanna immediately became obsessed with any show or film that had a great story and set of characters. Her favorite shows consist of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Downton Abbey, and Gravity Falls. Her biggest influences come from various manga, as well as Ghibli and Disney films. She has a background in 3D Animation, and has self-published a queer webcomic: Toxic For You.
Christina Soontornvat is the author of two Newbery Honor books A Wish in the Dark and All Thirteen, which also won the Kirkus Prize and a Sibert Honor distinction. She is also the author of Scholastic's beloved fantasy series Diary of an Ice Princess, and the picture books The Ramble Shamble Children, The Blunders, and Simon at the Art Museum. Christina holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a master's degree in Science Education. She spent a decade working in the science museum field, where she designed programs and exhibits to get kids excited about science and STEM. Christina lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two young children, and one old cat. You can learn more about her work at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
October 20, 2020
Newbery Medal
Honor Book 2021
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award
Honor Book 2021
Yalsa Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction for Young Adults
Finalist 2021
Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards
Honor Book 2021
Golden Kite
Winner 2021

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!