Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Watch That Ends The Night: Voices From The Titanic

Wolf, Allan. 2011.THE WATCH THAT ENDS THE NIGHT: VOICES FROM THE TITANIC. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 978-0763637033 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

Twenty-four voices give a thoughtful rendering of the fateful voyage in April of 1912. Through poetic narratives, readers gain a variety of perspectives about the ship, its passengers and societal norms. John Jacob Astor (The Millionaire) longs to avoid public scrutiny over his new teen bride. Jamila Nicola-Yarred (The Refugee) discovers love while she and her brother journey toward America. The Iceberg eloquently foreshadows his disastrous role, while The Ship Rat provides a matter-of-fact respite from the often-profound poems of the passengers. The dichotomies of rich and poor, young and old, contented and doleful are so precisely drawn that readers will easily grasp how one ill-fated event affects so many in such a variety of ways.

Despite no surprise ending, the reader is compelled to learn more about the relationships between the voices, to root for survival, and to make connections between the past and present. An author’s note, further insight into the voices, and a thorough bibliography make up back matter that should not be missed.

Teens are sure to encounter much information about the Titanic during its centennial commemoration. Likewise the recent sinking of the Concordia off the coast of Italy provides a modern-day shipwreck to compare with that of the Titanic. Such events are perfect opportunities for research projects, so investigate webquests and online lessons about the Titanic and its occupants. Collect news stories about the Concordia crash and find visual dissections of cruise ships to better understand the layout of these boats.

Other historical fiction about the Titanic:
Gray, Claudia. FATEFUL. ISBN 9780062006202
Weyn, Suzanne. DISTANT WAVES: A NOVEL OF THE TITANIC. ISBN 9780545085724
Williams, Barbara. TITANIC CROSSING. ISBN 9780803717909

By Rebecca S. McKee

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