Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Review: Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
Published by: Scholastic Press, an Imprint of Scholastic Inc, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-545-11674-9
Reading Level: Grades 5 and up

 I am a Newfoundlander. My grandfather on my mothers side was a sea captain and lived through at least one shipwreck. To leave my island you must take a boat or a plane - or swim, I guess! The Titanic has always been part of our consciousness - when I was a child we sang a campfire song about how "They built the ship Titanic just to sail the ocean blue" (full lyrics here). Even when I didn't know what it was, I knew of it. I knew of the perils of the sea and the majestic danger of ice burgs. I have gotten sunburned walking around the graveyard in Halifax looking for Titanic graves, I have spent time in exhibits in local museums looking at artifacts from the Titanic and replicas of items that might have been used. I even followed the live twitter feed last year as they tweeted as if it was real time and the ship was sinking. I have an interest in the subject matter - not necessarly a great knowledge but an interest, much of which was naturally obtained by my location and personal history.

This particular look at the Titanic is nicely done. Hopkinson takes the reader from the first short voyage with passengers, from London to Queenstown and then for it's final fatal voyage from Queenstown and onwards. Throughout the entire book there are pictures of life aboard the Titanic - some taken by passengers who were part of the first short voyage, others taken on ships with similar offerings as the Titanic. There are also copies of items such as work orders, menus, distress telegrams and other such print items to further illustrate the historical importance of the events contained within. 

At times this book gets a little unclear as it jumps around from survivor to survivor. However, the clarity in which it describes the fatal voyage, while staying true to the young reading level makes up for any occasional lack of focus. The pictures will please readers who.want to see the historical items but are also a great addition when trying to "sell" this book to a reluctant reader.

I give this book a 4/5.

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