Lorbiecki, M., & Heinzen, K. S. (ill.) (2012). Escaping Titanic: a young girl’s true story of survival. North Mankato, MN: Picture Window Books. ISBN: 9781404871434
Annotation: Twelve year old Ruth and her family are sailing to American on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. This is the story of how this girl survived the sinking of the unsinkable ship.
Reaction: This book had a surprising emotional impact for me, and I found myself holding back tears as Lorbiecki described the sinking of the Titanic and the deaths of so many people. The text and illustrations really work together to bring this tragedy home. The reader can’t help but feel sympathy for the traumatic experience Ruth had at such a young age. It’s no wonder she didn’t want to talk about it until 70 years later.
The art is beautiful and affecting. The image of the sunset before the accident is serene and makes the reader think that maybe everything will be all right after all. The images of the ship sinking are really well done and heartbreaking, and I’m thankful we’re seeing it from the perspective of Ruth in the lifeboat so the people are indistinct and impersonal. Unfortunately, the indistinctness of the people left in the water after the the ship finally succumbed doesn’t allow the reader to forget that they are people. Lots of people. Paired with Lorbiecki’s text describing the “deathly quiet [that] blanketed the water,” the image of the lifeboats on the dark ocean with victims floating in the distance is truly haunting.
I would use this book as a part of 5th or 6th grade history unit. When students learn about the sinking of the Titanic, it would be good to pair this book with other texts because it shows the tragedy from the perspective of someone the students’ own age.
Media Used: Illustrations created digitally.
Illustrator’s Website: None