Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Titanic

An acute curiosity about the Titanic disaster prompted the 7-year old to seek out books on the subject. We found a few simple picture books that managed to satisfy her interest and spark discussions about ships in general - a history of voyaging vessels, great ships - as well as basic safety measures for open sea ventures.

Titanic stories involving 'real' people who were on the ill-fated liner makes the tale more gripping, even if heart-wrenching. But, the stunning pictures and gentle narration of factual details in these books resonated with us.

Inside the Titanic: A Giant Cutaway Book
text by Hugh Brewster
illustrations by Ken Marschall

This giant 14.5"x11.5" book with stunning illustrations tells the story of Frankie and Billy, along with their families, and other passengers who board the greatest liner ever built, full of hope and optimism to establish a new life in America.

The photographs and illustrations bring the narration to life, putting us inside the luxury liner, exploring and discovering its magic along with the boys. The events following the hitting of the iceberg and the eventual sinking of the Titanic is narrated with clarity and thoughtfulness.

While the tragedy has no happy ending to satisfy all, The Rescue section is a heart-warming read which left the 7-yr old appeased.

With just the right amount of text, in flowing narration, and imposing full-page and double-page art work, this book helped us feel the emotions associated with this historic ship.

Pig on the Titanic: A True Story
by Gary Crew
pictures by Bruce Whatley

This true story is about Edith Rosenbaum sailing in The Titanic with a music-box pig, Maxixe, that her mother gave her as a lucky charm.

Told from the pig's perspective, the story demonstrates extraordinary courage and depths of human compassion.

Refusing to get on the lifeboat to allow for children to be saved, Edith was thrown into a lifeboat by a sailor as her bundled up pig Maxixe resembled a baby.

How Maxixe kept the spirits high till the eventual rescue makes up the rest of the story.

"Is it true, Mama? Was there really Edith Rosenbaum? Did she really have that music box pig?" Was asked a few times over, registering disbelief.

The illustrations are beautiful and the text is crisp and charming. When Maxixe tells us that Ms.Edith carried her everywhere, the accompanying illustrations show the various rooms and decks of the ship with swimming pool and ballroom and dining room and such.

At least, Ms.Edith's story ends well as she gets rescued along with many children who were entertained by Maxixe while in a lifeboat on icy waters.

Titanic: Disaster at Sea
by Martin Jenkins & Brian Sanders

There is a 'pop-up' version of this book with novelty like tickets, menus, and fold-out picture of the ship, and a regular version of the book with more details geared towards older readers.

We liked both versions. The 'Message Ignored' and 'The Final Hours' sections were detailed and straight account of the facts. 'The Inquiry' section concludes that no one could have foreseen the accident and that no one was to be blamed. But, it gave rise to new standards in ocean liner design and safety measures.

As a natural segway, we read about some famous ships from history.

The Great Ships
by Patrick O'Brien

Old sailors know that every ship on the sea has its own personality.

Thus opens this wonderful collection of ships from the longships of the Vikings to the giant aircraft carrier The Enterprise.

Each double page presents one ship - full-page picture on the left, with the crisp and romantic details on the right.

We enjoyed learning about the 17 ships therein (counting the NiƱa, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria as one.)

[image source:,]

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