Voices from the Disaster
By Deborah Hopkinson
Scholastic Press, Hardcover, 9780545116749, 289pp.
Publication Date: April 2012
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Critically acclaimed nonfiction author Deborah Hopkinson pieces together the story of the TITANIC and that fateful April night, drawing on the voices of survivors and archival photographs.
Scheduled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the TITANIC, a topic that continues to haunt and thrill readers to this day, this book by critically acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson weaves together the voices and stories of real TITANIC survivors and witnesses to the disaster -- from the stewardess Violet Jessop to Captain Arthur Rostron of the CARPATHIA, who came to the rescue of the sinking ship. Packed with heartstopping action, devastating drama, fascinating historical details, loads of archival photographs on almost every page, and quotes from primary sources, this gripping story, which follows the TITANIC and its passengers from the ship's celebrated launch at Belfast to her cataclysmic icy end, is sure to thrill and move readers.
Awards and Praise for SHUTTING OUT THE SKY:
Bank Street College Best Book
BOOK LINKS "Lasting Connections"
BOOKLIST Editors' Choice
CCBC CHOICES selection
IRA Teacher's Choice
James Madison Book Award, 2004
Jane Addams Peace Award Honor
NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor
NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
NYPL Book for the Teen Age
Sydney Taylor Notable Book
Starred reviews: BOOKLIST, KIRKUS, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"[A]n excellent model of historical writing. Hopkinson's enthusiasm for research, primary sources, and individual stories that make history come alive is evident throughout this excellent work. Nonfiction at its best. . . ." --KIRKUS (starred review)
"Meticulous documentation, including full chapter notes, will help the many young people--and their parents and grandparents--who will want to know more and to research their own family roots." --BOOKLIST (starred review)
Awards and Praise for UP BEFORE DAYBREAK: COTTON AND PEOPLE IN AMERICA
ALA Notable Children's Book
Bank Street Best Children's Books of the Year, 2007
Carter G. Woodson Book Awards Honor Award, 2007
IRA Notable Books for a Global Society
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK
Skipping Stones Honor Award
YALSA Best Book for Young Adults
Starred reviews: BOOKLIST, KIRKUS, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"This volume, like the author's SHUTTING OUT THE SKY (2003), is a model of superb nonfiction writing and how to use primary sources to create engaging narratives. The prose is clear, the documentation excellent and well-selected photographs support the text beautifully. What might have been a dry topic is lively, the voices of the children vivid and personal." -- KIRKUS
Stories of real people, such as mill girl Lucy Larcom who escaped the "incessant clash" of the looms to become a famous poet, sharply focus the dramatic history, as do arresting archival photos of stern youngsters manipulating hoes, cotton sags, or bobbins. Neither too long nor too dense, this won't intimidate students reluctantly tackling research projects, and teachers and children alike will welcome the concluding list of suggested readings for youth, the scholarly bibliography, and thorough endnotes. Rarely have the links between northern industry, southern agriculture, slavery, war, child labor, and poverty been so skillfully distilled for this audience." -- BOOKLIST
In what’s sure to be a definitive work commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, Hopkinson offers a well-researched and fascinating account of the disaster.
On Monday, April 15th, 1912, the magnificent Titanic sank after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Of the 2,208 people on board, only 712 survived. It’s a well-known story, though maybe not to young readers, who, if anything, might have seen the movie. Hopkinson orchestrates a wealth of material here, using a third-person narrative voice to tell the story while incorporating eyewitness accounts of people on the “most luxurious ship the world had ever seen.” A huge number of archival photographs and reproductions of telegrams, maps, letters, illustrations, sidebars and even a dinner menu complement the text, yielding a volume as interesting for browsing as for through-reading. The voices include a stewardess, a science teacher, a 9-year-old boy, the ship’s designer, the captain and a mother on her way to a new life in America. Best of all is the author’s spirit: She encourages readers to think like historians and wonder what it would have been like on the Titanic and imagine each character’s story. Fifty pages of backmatter will inform and guide readers who want to know even more.
A thorough and absorbing recreation of the ill-fated voyage.(Nonfiction. 8-16)
-Kirkus Reviews January 1, 2012
As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, there is a whole new output of books reexamining and updating the information about the tragedy. This one weaves together the memories and writing of the survivors, and what makes it stand out is the intimacy readers feel for the crew and passengers. The story itself hasn’t changed, but through Hopkinson’s work, young people get to know and care deeply about the people involved. Children, stewards, officers, and passengers from all three class designations are included, and their stories combine to recount the events of that fateful April night. Readers with even a passing knowledge of the Titanic will find themselves drawn into the drama and heartbroken at the inevitable end. Period photographs, artwork, diagrams, and maps appear throughout to illustrate points and help clarify events. Traditionally accepted details about the ship from its construction to its luxurious appointments, are discussed, and some of the controversies that have arisen since the wreck was found, but the real focus here is on the people and the narrative. Students looking for real-life drama will find this an absorbing and richly satisfying read.–Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
-School Library Journal, February 2012
Hopkinson knows precisely what’s she doing in her coverage of the Titanic disaster: providing young readers with a basic introduction to the event without overdramatizing, drawing unwarranted conclusions, or prolonging the ordeal. She begins her account as the ship embarks on its maiden voyage and, once it sets sail, flashes back to cover its construction and grandeur as well as some of the crew’s responsibilities, which play major roles in the sinking of the ship and the rescue of the passengers. Hopkinson also introduces her “characters,” real survivors whose voices relay many of the subsequent events. She includes crew members as well as those traveling in first, second, and third class, showing both the contrasts between them as the voyage begins and the horror that binds them by night’s end. In this admirably restrained account, Hopkinson covers, but doesn’t dwell upon, the foreshadowing of iceberg reports, the heartbreaking choices in boarding the (too few) lifeboats, and the agony of those dying in the freezing water. For interested readers who want to read in more detail, Hopkinson includes comprehensive chapter notes, a listing of sources, and questions to get young people started on their own Titanic quests. Archival photographs, a timeline, a selected list of facts, short biographies of those mentioned, excerpts from selected survivor letters, a glossary, and an unseen index complete this fine book.
-Betty Carter, Horn Book Reviews, March/April 2012
Hopkinson puts a human face on the Titanic’s sinking in this riveting nonfiction chronicle of the ship’s collision with an iceberg and the tragic aftermath. She threads together the stories of many passengers and crew members, focusing on a handful of survivors that includes an Argentine-born stewardess, a rambunctious nine-year-old British boy, a science teacher from England, and an American teenager traveling with his parents. The author quotes these four and others freely, their voices forming a deeply intimate account of the tragedy. Hopkinson packs her thoroughly researched story with a wealth of information about the ship itself (this book is an invaluable resource for students), and her portraits of the shipmates are fully realized and often heartbreaking. Chapters detailing the sinking, the scramble for lifeboats, and the harrowing wait for the Carpathia’s arrival are fast-paced and riveting. Photos of the ship, the (purported) iceberg, telegrams sent to and from the Titanic, and of the survivors’ rescue add significant context and amplify the immediacy of the drama. Ages 8–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House.
-Publisher's Weekly February 20, 2012