Monday, March 3, 2014

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
Deborah Hopkinson
Scholastic, 2012    289 pgs     Grades 5-8

Step into a time machine and prepare yourself to travel back to the turn of the century, where we relive the sinking of the ship considered "unsinkable" at the time of its fatal maiden voyage. Over one-hundred years later, the Titanic continues to fascinate.  Join Hopkinson as she presents historical background and first-person accounts of the famous tragedy.  Rare photos of the ship and illustrations from the time of the disaster supplement the text.  We experience life aboard the ship and the eventual sinking through the eyes of people ranging from children through senior citizens.  All three classes of passengers, as well as crew are represented.  Hopkinson includes all kinds of bonus features, such as maps, time-lines, bonus facts & figures, original letters from actual passengers, and an extensive bibliography and index.  Also included are accounts of what eventually became of the people featured in the book, as well as other famous passengers of interest.

I am always on the lookout for "readable" non-fiction and this book fills the bill.  Hopkinson weaves the different first-person accounts seamlessly, as we live through the Titanic disaster in a linear fashion.  It is an excellently well researched piece of non-fiction that also happens to be fun to read.  Titanic: Voices from the Disaster is useful for kids working on research projects, as well as a great suggestion for those who have a non-fiction book report, but don't think they like non-fiction. Even Titanic experts will walk away with new bits of information and many Titanic myths are dispelled. The book is so chuck full of photos, letters, illustrations and bonus materials it reads quickly and never gets boring.  Between the sensational sinking of the great ship and the romanticized view we have of the event from popular media, the book is an easy sell.  With the Titanic II being constructed as I write this, interest in the doomed ship is sure to continue.

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