________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 8 . . . . December 7, 2007



Jim Pipe.
Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2007.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55407-303-0.

Subject Headings:
Titanic (Steamship).
Shipwrecks-North Atlantic Ocean.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4


When the White Star Line invited me to write about the RMS Titanic, I was delighted. It’s not every day that a journalist like myself gets to travel on a luxury liner! Naturally, I followed the progress of the ship with great interest. Little did I know that the Titanic was to become the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark.

The story of the mighty ocean liner, the Titanic, seems to be one of those topics about which we simply cannot get enough. As such, despite the voluminous collection of existing books and movies about the ship’s ill-fated maiden voyage, there remains room for more. So it is that there is still a place on the market for Firefly Books’ new publication, Titanic. Because of the number of Titanic books that are available to readers, however, any new publication needs to measure up and have something to offer value-conscious consumers. It was with this in mind that I turned my attention to Jim Pipe’s Titanic. In short, Titanic measures up.

     Titanic is an interactive book for readers of varied ages. Although I settled on an age designation of approximately eight to eleven years, younger and older readers with an interest in the Titanic will find something of interest between the sturdy hard covers of this new book. Including the information- and illustration-rich end pages, Titanic features 15 double-page spreads. Each spread features an assortment of historical photographs, interesting details, colourful illustrations, reproductions of printed materials from the ship, and text box information. Additionally, Titanic features a fictional narrative that ties the book together. An imaginary journalist who was supposedly invited to enjoy the ship’s maiden voyage presents this narrative in a first-person account. It is an effective way of giving a human presence to what potentially might otherwise falter under the weight of factual details.

     An additional element that will entice many readers is the inclusion of materials presented in envelopes, behind “door” flaps, in attached booklets and behind foldout pages. Such material includes an invitation to join the maiden voyage, a guide to the wildlife that might be viewed from the ship’s decks, playing cards, the first class dining menu, a newspaper facsimile, cutaway ship’s images, and a reproduction of a telegrammed SOS issued from the sinking ship: “We have struck iceberg sinking fast come to our assistance.” 

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     In reading Pipe’s book, I learned many facts about the Titanic that were previously unknown to me. For instance, I was intrigued to learn that one lifeboat full of weakened survivors was saved when a dog alerted rescuers by barking loudly and attracting attention to the survivors’ presence. At that point, the heroic dog, named Rigel, had been swimming in the icy waters for three hours. This is just one of many fascinating details the book contains. Did you know that there were 50 cases of toothpicks aboard the Titanic? What about bags of mail? Three thousand three hundred sixty-four!

     I was impressed by the manner in which Jim Pipe and Firefly have organized the book. It is information-rich but entirely digestible. Perhaps the highest praise I have to give is that I got a real sense of being on the ship, caught up in all of the excitement and opulence of the maiden voyage. Yet, before long, I also caught a sense of the drama and tragedy that soon unfolded.  

     This is an engaging read and, while there are now many books about the Titanic, this will be a worthwhile addition to a family’s Titanic collection.


Gregory Bryan is a member of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education where he teaches children’s literature courses.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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