The Titanic is one of those perennially popular topics; a quick keyword search in the Guide Online brings up eighty-four records (and counting). The following books, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the tragedy — April 15, 1912 — are fine examples of Titanic lore.
Managing Editor, The Horn Book Guide
Chrisp, Peter Explore Titanic: Breathtaking New Pictures, Recreated with Digital Technology
40 pp. Barron’s 2011. ISBN 978-1-4380-7159-6
Gr. 4–6 Illustrated by Somchith Vongprachanh. From the early stages of Titanic’s planning and construction to the ship’s amenities to the dramatic accident and eventual sinking, every detail of the historic ship is presented — visually and with informative text and firsthand accounts — for you-are-there exploration. Illustrations include archival photographs and stunningly crisp digital re-creations of spaces, objects, and scenes. Includes a CD for virtual “3D tours.”
Denenberg, Barry Titanic Sinks!
72 pp. Viking 2011. ISBN 978-0-670-01243-5
Gr. 4–6 Denenberg’s handsome volume is formatted to look like a commemorative newspaper. Background information about the ship reads like a travel brochure, emphasizing the Titanic’s size and grandeur. The text’s faux journalistic account provides a sense of immediacy while an “RMS Titanic Hour by Hour” timeline clarifies events. The volume is generously illustrated with archival photographs and appended with source notes. Bib.
Gray, Claudia Fateful
328 pp. HarperTeen 2011. ISBN 978-0-06-200620-2
YA Tess is a servant for the Lisles, upper-class Brits traveling to the States — aboard the Titanic — to marry off bashful daughter Irene. Steel heir Alexander Marlowe seems a likely candidate for a match. Unfortunately, he’s a werewolf — a secret Tess discovers while falling in love with him. Gray (keeping a remarkably straight face) creates a compelling story line around the seemingly doomed lovers.
Lassieur, Allison Can You Survive the Titanic?: An Interactive Survival Adventure
112 pp. Capstone 2011. LE ISBN 978-1-4296-6586-5
PE ISBN 978-1-4296-7351-8
Gr. 4–6 You Choose: Survival series. In this Choose Your Own Adventure–style book, readers select a persona — surgeon’s assistant, governess, or twelve-year-old boy — and make decisions at narrative crossroad points. Though the information is limited, the text packs in many details about the ship, supported by archival reproductions. The active-learning approach will engage students while demonstrating how individuals’ choices or social status made the difference between life and death. Reading list. Bib., glos., ind.
Lawson, Julie Ghosts of the Titanic
169 pp. Holiday 2012. ISBN 978-0-8234-2423-8
Gr. 4–6 Kevin’s family receives a mysterious invitation to stay at a house in Halifax. Soon after arrival, Kevin starts hearing a ghost: “Where’s Michael? What have you done with my boy?” Some investigating leads to the discovery of a family secret tied to the Titanic disaster. The real-life events on which the story is based are fascinating; the ghost story is mildly chilling.
McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino Iceberg Right Ahead!
112 pp. Twenty-First Century 2011. ISBN 978-0-7613-6756-7
YA An introduction describing the earliest moments of an emergency that would become historic tragedy opens this meticulously researched Titanic account that focuses on the event’s lesser-known details and devotes ample coverage to its aftermath. Frequent sidebars that further zoom in on small stories within larger ones, striking historical photographs and period illustrations, and extensive back matter complement McPherson’s engaging prose. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Mone, Gregory Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on the Titanic
223 pp. Roaring Brook 2012. ISBN 978-1-59643-673-2
Gr. 4–6 Twelve-year-old Patrick lies about his age to get a job aboard the Titanic. He gets more than he bargained for, though, when he finds himself involved in a rarified plot to steal a valuable book. With the Titanic’s fate looming on the horizon (for readers, at least), Mone’s fast-paced and readable adventure sails briskly along to its neatly wrapped-up ending.
Morpurgo, Michael Kaspar the Titanic Cat
200 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2012. ISBN 978-0-06-200618-9
Gr. 4–6 Illustrated by Michael Foreman. Orphan Johnny Trott, a bellboy at London’s Savoy Hotel, is lonely — until a cat named Kaspar and a girl named Lizziebeth enter his life. Johnny finds himself on an adventure, stowing away aboard the Titanic and then helping Lizziebeth’s family escape the disaster. Morpurgo’s accessible text provides a good amount of suspense. Foreman’s black-and-white illustrations are by turns dramatic and reassuring.
Tarshis, Lauren The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
101 pp. Scholastic 2010. ISBN 978-0-545-20687-7
PE ISBN 978-0-545-20694-5
Gr. 4–6 Illustrated by Scott Dawson. I Survived series. George, his sister, and their wealthy aunt sail from England on the ill-fated Titanic. When tragedy strikes, George is separated from family members, but, miraculously, all survive the disaster. Though the events are contrived, reluctant readers may be drawn to this fast-paced book with short, easy-to-read chapters. Shadowy black-and-white illustrations add to the text.
Turetsky, Bianca The Time-Traveling Fashionista
265 pp. Little/Poppy 2011. ISBN 978-0-316-10542-2
YA Illustrated by Sandra Suy. After trying on a gown at a “fashionista vintage sale,” seventh grader Louise finds herself aboard a fancy 1900s ocean liner. She’s delighted to be mistaken for, and wear the clothes of, a wealthy actress — until she realizes she’s on the Titanic. The story line is predictable, but full-color illustrations and similarly colorful clothing descriptions will appeal to fashion lovers.
From the March/April 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, click here.