Saturday 4 February 2017

Reviewed: Survivor: Titanic by Stephen Davies ★★★★★

Stephen Davies - Survivor Titanic (Scholastic)

Our fascination with the RMS Titanic is endless and it is interesting that one ill-fated ship would continue to capture our imagination, over a century since it sunk, in a way that no other ship has. Perhaps it is the impossibility of it all? The RMS Titanic was the grandest ocean liner of all, said to be unsinkable, yet she hit an iceberg and sunk to the bottom of the ocean on her maiden voyage in April 1912.

Not only did she sink but over 1,500 people lost their lives that night due in large part to the insufficient number of lifeboats and the crew’s haste to get lifeboats half-full of passengers off the sinking vessel.

There were many stories that emerged that night, some heroic and some not, yet the greatest legend of all was the fact that the wreckage remained lost for over 70 years until it was finally found in 1985. It was then that facts began to emerge and our understanding of the event changed dramatically. Indeed, it may not have been possible for James Cameron to direct his 1997 film Titanic were it not for facts such as the vessel breaking in half before each half sunk separately.

There is so much to learn about the RMS Titanic in terms of maritime navigation, ethics, accountability and bravery and seeing as we’ve passed the centenary of the great event, it is time to think about how we are going to teach these events to the next generation of children.

Publishing house Scholastic is on that and has launched the Survivor series of gripping first hand accounts of the most dangerous events in history. For the most part, the stories feature fictional characters but they take place during some of the most notable events in history.

The first book in the series is Survivor: Titanic by Stephen Davies. The book features Jimmy, a twelve-year-old Irish boy staying with his family in a third-class cabin on board the Titanic. He meets Omar, hailing from Lebanon and together they explore all the hidden passageways and cargo holds on the ship. They also manage to sneak into the first-class area and explore the grand opulence of the gymnasium and Grand Staircase.

It is Jimmy’s encounter with ten-year-old Beryl that changes his life forever, on a voyage that will change the lives of so many people. On a night of fear and loss, will Jimmy rise to the occasion?

Survivor Titanic by Stephen DaviesSurvivor: Titanic is absolutely gripping and quite impossible to put down. Stephen Davies brings life on board the RMS Titanic to life in a way that even the film didn’t manage. This was seamless storytelling at its best and not only did we learn about Jimmy and Omar’s respective heritages, we also learnt about the mechanics and layout of the vessel and the social mores and customs of the various classes. That electric camel must have been something to behold.

It is rare that an author manages to cram in so much information and knowledge into a story without weighing it down but Survivor: Titanic proceeds at a breakneck pace. If the aim of the Scholastic series is to teach the history curriculum in an exciting and thrilling manner, then they have certainly succeeded with this first release.

Stephen Davies is a prolific children’s author and has featured twice on this site before with Outlaw and Blood & Ink, set in Burkina Faso and Mali respectively. Survivor: Titanic continues his run of excellent and educational books for the 8 to 11 age group.

I give Survivor: Titanic by Stephen Davies a superb five out of five stars and would highly recommend the book to young history lovers. The book also features an excerpt of the next book in the series, Jim Elridge's Survivor: Escape From Pompeii, and that also looks to be excellent.



A copy of this book was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

© 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

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