Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf

Candlewick, 2011

Question:  What sank the Titanic?  How many died?  Would it be hard or easy to imagine this disaster? 
Well, thanks to James Cameron and the phrase, "I'm King of the World!"  I'm sure you can.  But then again, there are many sides to the story, and this novel takes on these many sides in a remarkable way. 

Meet the first voice in this novel-in-verse.  His name is John Snow.  And he's the one that had to pick up the dead left after the Titanic sunk.  His tale told will make you think about the aftermath....

How about Charles Joughin, the baker?  All he thought about was the bread, the passengers, and the food on board.  It's his tale from the time he stepped on board till the time he was in the dark cold water....

Then there's Frankie Goldsmith, only nine years old when he sailed.  He got to meet the captain and others, but he was on the lookout for dragons.  He just didn't know dragons could live in ice...

And there are other voices as well, from the iceberg itself, calmly waiting for its destined meeting with Titanic to the rat who got a ride.  And there are familiar voices, such as John Jacob Astor, Captain Smith and Margaret Brown.  Whomever it is, the characters are all entangled with each other, sometimes bumping shoulders.  Their lives are separate at first, but become more intertwined the further the novel takes the reader. 

What's unique about this book is that each and every character (well, maybe not the rat - they really can't talk) was very much alive and a part of the disaster called the Titanic.  Wolfe found his characters from true historical evidence, then weaved this into a unique and compelling novel-in-verse. He details all of this in the author's note, along with a brief biography of each person included in the novel.  This was just as much of an intriguing read as the story itself because Wolfe also tells where his imagination for some of these characters became part of the story. 

There are twenty-five voices in this novel, but don't let that intimidate or overwork the mind.  Instead, each voice that comes to life will tell the story of the Titanic in twenty-five different ways but ultimately will only have two endings.  All told in novel-in-verse, this is the story of the very beginning of the Titanic from its first rivet to its last collapse.  And while the prose is beautiful, the poetry is amazing.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and this book is the perfect fit for this milestone.

This isn't necessarily a novel for teens, but is a fantastic historical fiction for any collection.  The way the author approaches this subject through NIV will make it more interesting to those teens like enjoy this genre and readily read YA authors like Ellen Hopkins, Lisa Schroeder, et al.  Highly recommended

1 comment:

Juliet Bond said...

This looks wonderful! I am adding it to my wish list :)