Tarshis, Lauren. I Survived: The Hindenburg Disaster, 1937
February 23rd 2016 by Scholastic Paperbacks
ARC from Young Adult Books Central and Reviewed there
Hugo and his family have booked passage on the Hindenburg because his younger sister, Gertie, needs to get back to the United States after the family has spent time living in Africa and she has contracted a case of malaria that won't go away. It's an exciting and luxurious voyage, and much quicker than taking a ship. There's also some intrigue: the Nazis are starting to make their presence felt in Germany, and Hugo strongly suspects that some of the passengers may be either Nazis or spies! He makes friends with the daughter of the ship's captain, and gets to explore many hidden places in the ship. Gertie takes a turn for the worse, which makes the family very anxious. Of course, the big disaster occurs when the zeppelin is about to land but catches fire. Will Hugo, Gertie, their parents, and their dog manage to survive this spectacularly deadly tragedy from the early days of commercial flight?
While is is often difficult to get young readers to pick up historical fiction, the I Survived are packed with so much adventure in relatively few pages that even the most reluctant readers will pick them up. That is a great thing, because the books also have a wealth of historical details for students to learn.
Hugo's adventure on the airship before it crashed is also interesting. Who knew that retrieving the family dog from the cargo area would lead him to uncover an evil Nazi colonel or a spy who was in danger? This might have taken some liberties with actual history, but certainly added interest to the book.
For readers who are interested in World War II, early commercial flight, or just an adventure that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, this latest installment in the I Survived series will not disappoint.
My favorite thing about YouTube is that there is so much historical footage there. Here is the British Pathe newsreel covering the disaster: