Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012)


The tragedy of the Titanic is brought home through the stories of people who were there.

Recommended grade level: 6-10

Pages: 289 (for ISBN 9780545116749)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, history, survival

Tone/Style: informational, personal

Pace: moderate

Topics: Titanic, ships, disasters

Themes: sacrifice, selfishness, perseverance, courage, mistakes resulting in loss of life

Summary: 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 its cataclysmic icy end, is sure to thrill and move readers. (Source)

Who will like this book?: The story of the Titanic has fascinated generations of readers with its high drama and horror.  This book will be no exception. The focus on specific real-life individuals lends it immediacy. Give this to history buffs who like to learn about disasters. This may be a good one for kids who have outgrown the popular I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis.

Who won’t like this book?: Readers who are easily disturbed or don’t like sad stories should avoid this.

Other comments: Ever since I was in preschool and walked in on my dad watching Titanic just as a dead lady in a billowing dress floated by, I’ve kept away from anything to do with the infamous disaster at sea. I actually only read this because it was on our state readers’ choice list and I had to booktalk it. I was pleasantly surprised. I felt it captured the depth of the tragedy without being gratuitous (or giving me panic attacks). The kids responded very well to the booktalks.


Readalikes: For historical fiction about the Titanic, try The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf (recommended for grades 7 and up), Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn (recommended for grades 8 and up), No Moon by Irene M. Watts, and Unsinkable by Gordon Korman.  Fair warning–I haven’t read any of these personally. I may have had one good experience with a Titanic book, but let’s not get carried away. Hopkinson’s newest nonfiction titles for this age group is Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark. Some other recommended nonfiction about disasters: Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong and Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (this is a graphic novel, recommended for grades 7+). Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is a historical fiction book about another maritime disaster that I cannot recommend enough (for grades 8 and up).

-Kylie Peters

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