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Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Story of Titanic For Children

Author/ Editor: Joe Fullman and Alexandra Koken
Publisher: Carlton Books Ltd, 2015

It's always a joy to see a child with their arms around a book, having not been told to choose or find a book...though bedtime, with The Titanic (again!) When will Alf's obsession with this book end?
We've had 'The Story of Titanic For Children' for a good 18 months now, and I can safely say it's the boys' ( 7 years and 5 years) favourite non- fiction. The book is a sort of scrapbook encyclopaedia of The Titanic, from the building of, to the legacy of 'the unsinkable ship.' Each page is a colourful double page spread under a differing theme, such as 'loading', 'manning' , 'powering' Particularly interesting are the overviews on passenger social class and where this placed passengers in relation to the ship's quarters (and their likelihood of survival). 
It seems the secret to the success of this book ( with my children), besides this being a captivating, horrifying and real-life tragedy that simply fascinates, is the personalisation of the stor/ies and themes. Each page offers a photo or two and short paragraph on how individuals were associated with the Titanic and what fate had in store for them, so for example, in 'First Class' we read how The Countess of Rothes steered lifeboat 8 to safety, and became friends with Able Seaman Thomas Jones ever after. Alf's current favourite snippet of story is that of Eva Hart, who was a seven year old on board The Titanic, as he can relate to her, being seven himself. 

As you can see, the pages are laid out like a pin board with pin images in some of the pictures, this makes the arrangement of the page very inviting and novel, with photo excerpts interspliced with poster images and artefacts of that time. There's also little clues and suggestions as to who or what is to 'blame' for the sinking of The Titanic;  lookout boy Fredrich Fleet, whose binoculars were locked in a cupboard thanks to Second Officer David Blair being transferred to The Olympic? First Officer William Murdoch for taking evasive action and giving the order to turn the ship away from the iceberg, leaving it to hit side on rather than dead centre? Alf and Bert revel in this guessing game and opportunity to exercise their own opinion, they have even recreated the 'side on' 'straight on' impact using bubble icebergs and toy boats in the bath. 

Now don't get me wrong, this is a great book, but inevitably it's a morbid story of a tragic disaster. The page 'A Ship Destroyed' has a graphic image of dead men in the water, so maybe not suited to the more faint hearted. This sort of macabre and gruesome drama does seem though, to really appeal to children of 5years and upwards. So much so that Alf persistently bought this book into class for  'silent reading' for a lot of last year. After a good few months his teacher stopped me in the playground and politely requested I send Alf in with 'something less diaster based.' He agreed and scooted off upstairs to find a new 'independent reading book.' He came down a few minutes with 'Pompeii' !! 

I will leave you with a fantastic clip from a National Geographic documentry, that Alf and Bert have watched over and over again, helping them to support their theories and foundation knowledge obtained from this hugely recommended book: The Stroy of Titanic for Children. 

Titanic Sinking CGI Video: National Geographic

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