Monday, April 30, 2012

Nonfiction Monday -- Escaping Titanic

Are we ever going to get tired of reading books about the sinking of the Titanic? Probably not.

Among the latest offerings from Capstone Press is a picture book biography of a young girl, Ruth Elizabeth Becker, who survived the disaster: Escaping Titanic, a Young Girl’s True Story of Survival by Marybeth Lorbiecki.  (Naturally, it’s illustrated by an artist, since any photographs taken on the ship itself were lost when it went down.)

Although classified as nonfiction and according to the afterward, is based on Ruth's own story, there is no way to tell if the stilted conversations in this book are from something Ruth said or wrote, or were made up by the author. When a publisher puts the words "story by Marybeth Lorbiecki" on the cover of the book, it makes it look suspiciously as if the author made things up. This was often done with children's biographies of yore, but nowadays teachers and librarians expect everything in a biography, even a picture book biography, to be based on fact and the sources named in the back of the book.  It would have been more satisfactory if the author's note had been more specific about her source.  Was it an audio or video of Ruth telling her story in 1982 at the Titanic Historical Society convention? Or was it from something written by Ruth? 

Once the iceberg strikes the ship (which Ruth did NOT see), the writing improves greatly with descriptions so vivid you know this must be the tale of someone who saw it happen. 

Along with the usual Capstone directions to go to for more information, a timeline is included as well as an Afterword which continues Ruth's biography up until her ashes are scattered over the sunken Titanic.

For more links to Nonfiction Monday book reviews, check out the Nonfiction Roundup collection at the Gathering Books  blog.  Enjoy.


Books4Learning said...

I don't think I will ever get tired of stories on the Titanic. I have been fascinated by it since I was abut 9-10 years old. :) I like that this book is from a child's perspective. It can make it more relevant for some children. Nice review.

GatheringBooks said...

There is an ongoing Titanic artifact exhibition here in Singapore until middle of May, I think. This would be a great companion book for those who may be thinking of going to that exhibit. :)