Hopkinson, Ellen. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster.
1 April 2012, Scholastic
Over the past year there has been a plethora of Titanic books, both fiction and nonfiction, so I wasn't quite in the mood for yet another one. If you feel the same way, please pick up this title even if you don't want to, because it is excellent.
So many of the books concern themselves with the minutiae of the disaster, as does this book, but what I enjoyed most were the Father Brown pictures of details of the ship and life on the ship before it sank. Pictures of the exercise room, descriptions of the care taken by the ship designer to make the cabins for the staff comfortable, menus that were going to be served... all of this made the eventual fate of the ship more poignant. A fair number of people on board the Titanic are followed, and their fates are helpfully listed at the back of the book. Hopkinson's inclusion of discussions of questions that often come up-- why so few life boats, comparisons of similar boats, how the ship really sank from water coming in the top of it-- are interesting sidebars. And, of course, the inclusion of primary source material lends immediacy to an event that captures the imagination even 100 years later. Two particularly effective elements in the book design are the fact that it is the size of a standard fiction book, making it more likely that students will pick it up rather than a picture book shaped tome, and the use of Avant Garde Gothic font (about 12 point) that was eminently readable and reminiscent of the sans serif font used in Jordan Sonnenblick's books. It is especially important in nonfiction books to have a readable type and good use of white space.
Nonfiction Monday was started by Anne Suen and the round up is hosted this week at Shelf-Employed.