Thursday, January 5, 2012

All Stations! Distress! by Don Brown

Book Jacket

All Stations!  Distress!  Titanic. 

It was past midnight.  The ship had come to a dead stop and sank down at the bow.  Distress rockets were fired skyward from her deck.  Steam shrieked as it escaped Titanic's boilers.  Passengers made their way to the uppermost lifeboat deck with their life belts strapped on.

Barely three hours later, the crippled Titanic would plunge more than two-and-a-half miles to the ocean floor, taking two-thirds of her passengers and crew with her and leaving seven hundred survivors adrift in lifeboats and rafts on an icy ocean.  It was April 15, 1912, and the luxurious giant ship, said to be unsinkable, had been destroyed on her maiden voyage by a collision with an iceberg.  This gripping account dramatizes the disaster in the words of the survivors and in watercolors that portray the chaos, desperation, and numerous individual dramas of a night remembered for the most infamous shipwreck in history.


I used to be completely obsessed with the Titanic, and this book does a brilliant job of detailing the horror and stupidity (not having enough lifeboats, not filling up the lifeboats they had) of one of the most tragic events of the last century without getting overly macabre.  I think this is a fantastic book for children interested in the Titanic for just that reason.

What makes the story of the unsinkable sinking so endlessly fascinating?  I suppose it is largely due to the hubris--is there a better story that illustrates "pride goes before a fall"?  And there are so many revealed social injustices, with poor people essentially barricaded to death while rich men and women fled in unfilled lifeboats.  Both courage and selfishness come out all the stronger in such overwhelming situations. 

All Stations! Distress! tells all of these stories. 

Five out of five distress rockets.

Release Date:  December 2008
Reading Level: Grade 2+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: BLUESTEM

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