Sunday, September 25, 2011

Titanic: Book One--Unsinkable (Historical Fiction Chapter Book)

Titanic: Book One--Unsinkable
By Gordon Korman

This thrilling first of a three part series, Titanic: Book One--Unsinkable  takes us on board the fated  RMS Titanic while following the adventures of four of its young passengers.

We follow four young people and their strange journeys to the Titanic.  Street dweller Paddy, honest Alife, entitled Juliana, and driven Sophie all got to the Titanic in different ways, but their paths intersect as the doomed ship heads towards America.

Paddy Burns was living on the streets of  Belfast with his companion Daniel Sullivan. In a very Dickens manner, they survived as pick pockets. While scouting a crowd, they bumped into the famed architect of the Titanic, Mr. Thomas Andrews. Daniel, a bit of an inquisitor, asked Mr. Andrews if the Titanic was really unsinkable. Mr. Andrews then asked Daniel to think about ways it might sink. After stealing money from the biggest gang in Belfast, the Gilhooley's, Daniel and Paddy must face the consequences. In a fury of adventure, Paddy ends up a stowaway on the Titanic with only the blueprints that Daniel had produced for Mr. Andrews.

Juliana Glamm, daughter of the Earl of Glamford, was introduced to the ship Titanic as a passanger on her father's "flying machine." Although her father is kind and well meaning, he is trapped in the addiction of thrill seeking behaviors. He surprises Juliana with the news that they would be sailing on the Titanic's maiden voyage.

Alfie Huggins, son of coal shoveling John Huggins, lied about his age and applied to the White Star Line as a steward. His mother had just passed on and he was happy to be aboard a ship with his father in the boiler room.

Fourteen-year old Sophie Bronson landed on the Titanic after her mother, Mrs. Amelia Bronson, was thrown in a London jail after demonstrating in Piccadilly Circus about women's suffrage. Her father, back in Boston, had sent money for their release and transport.Sophie's mother is a staunch advocate and pioneer for women's rights. She has to "take care" of her mother at every turn. Embarrassed by her mother's passion, Sophie, without being brash, is the embodiment of the women's right movement.

John Jacob Astor IV and wife Madeleine 
This action packed book is ideal for the student who loves historical fiction. I was transported back to 1912 and felt the lives of these four young people come to life. The book begins with a prologue on April 15, 1912 aboard the RMS Carpathia. Knowing that the Carpathia is the rescue ship helped put this in context.
I was personally enthralled with the story. At first I thought I was going to get a rehash of the 1999 movie with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DeCaprio. Far from it! This action packed adventure book had me guessing at each turn. I'm quite excited to dive into the next two installments!

Titanic is a quick read. The language might pose obstacles for students who are unfamiliar with natucal terms, British-English, and the disaster of the Titanic. As a read aloud, I would make sure to review these ideas and concepts. With the looming one-hundred anniversary of the disaster, it would be a great book to build a social studies unit around.

This video, by Scholastic, previews the three Titanic books by Gordon Korman.

Gordon Korman Speaking at the 2011 National Book Festival   

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