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The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic


The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic Cover




MATEO from the island of Cuba


Fear is a fierce wind

that sends me reeling

down to the seashore,

where I beg for work,

any work at all,

any escape

to carry me far

from my fathers

furious fists.



Lobster trapper.

Im willing to take any job

that floats me away

from home.

I am not an ordinary war orphan.

Papi is alive, but the family part

of his mind

is deeply wounded.

He drinks so much rum

that he believes I am

his enemy—a Spaniard

from the country

that lost the war

and left so many

of its soldiers


Spanish veterans

flock the seashore, begging

for the same jobs that lure me.

Im only fourteen, but Im strong

for a starving boy.

So I shove and curse

along with the crowd

of muscular men, all of us

equally eager to reach

a fast-talking americano

Panamá Canal recruiter

who promises food, houses,

and money,

so much money . . .

The recruiter shouts and pounds

his fists in the air.

His foreign accent

makes the words sound powerful

as he describes a wild jungle

where men who are hired

will dig the Eighth Wonder

of the World.

He says the canal is a challenge

worthy of Hercules,

a task for giants,

not ordinary men,

but when he unrolls a map,

Panamá is barely

a sliver.

How can such a narrow

bridge of land

be so important?

After the confusing map,

there are pamphlets with pictures

of tidy houses, the orderly dining rooms

offering comforting details

that catch my eye.

Lacy curtains and tablecloths,

flowers in vases,

plates heaped with food . . .

So much food.

Barriga llena, corazón contento.

Full belly, happy heart.

Thats what Mami used to say,

before cholera claimed

her happiness

and mine.

With the flair of a magician,

the recruiter tosses two sun-shiny coins

up and down in his hand,

until the gold

American dollars

ring out like church bells

or kettledrums in a parade.

Those musical coins lure me

deeper into the crowd of pushing,

rushing, desperate, job-hungry strangers,

but as soon as I reach for the recruiters

paper and pen, ready to sign my name

on a contract, the blond man glares

at my green eyes, brown face,

and curly hair, as if struggling

to figure out who I am.

No cubanos, he shouts. No islanders,

just pure Spanish,

semi-blanco, semi-white—

European. Civilized.

His words make no sense.

Isnt semi-white the same

as semi-dark?

So I start telling lies.

I let my skin fib.

I point out that my father

is blondish and my mother

was the tan of toasted wheat,

her hair long and silky,

her eyes as blue-green

as the sea,

just like mine.

Then I invent an imaginary village

in Spain, for my birthplace,

and I give my age

as twenty,

and I show off

my muscles,

pretending to feel

brave . . .

By the time I board

a dragon-smoky

Panamá Craze steamship,

Ive already told so many lies

that my conscience feels

as hollow

as my belly.

Product Details

Wolf, Allan
Candlewick Press (MA)
Engle, Margarita
Historical - United States - 20th Century
Children s-Adventure Stories
Children s-Historical Fiction-Other
titanic;historical fiction;poetry;novel in verse;ya;verse;shipwrecks;shipwreck;disaster;young adult;fiction
Newbery honor;ecology;history;georgraphy;slavery;apartheid;Latin and Carribean c
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 9
8 x 5.5 in 0.8 lb
Age Level:
from 14

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Related Subjects

Children's » Action and Adventure » Adventure Stories
Children's » Historical Fiction
Children's » Historical Fiction » General
Children's » Historical Fiction » Other
Children's » Historical Fiction » United States » 20th Century
Children's » Transportation » Boats, Ships and Underwater Craft
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Travel » Travel Writing » General
Young Adult » General

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$21.99 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Candlewick Press (MA) - English 9780763637033 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Wolf (Zane's Trace) constructs a richly textured novel in verse that recreates the Titanic's ill-fated journey, predominantly through the voices of her passengers. The speakers include John Jacob Astor, ('the unsinkable') Margaret Brown, Captain E.J. Smith, and little-known individuals whose stories Wolf draws from research and archival materials. A Lebanese refugee, traveling alone with her brother, finds first love; a tailor, accompanied by his two sons, anguishes over his broken marriage; and a gambler cons his way through the first-class passengers' pocketbooks. A ship rat speaks, as does the iceberg itself — a choice that could have become esoteric ('I am the ice. I have no need of wings./ I only need the hearts Titanic brings') — but earns its place within a composite that includes colloquial speech, introspective interior monologues, and rhyming poetry. Throughout, sequences flash forward to an undertaker's handling of the bodies ('Bodies scattered for miles, in every direction./ Bodies as far as my indifferent eyes can see'), assuring that the ending is never in question. But Wolf's carefully crafted characters evolve as the voyage slides to its icy conclusion; readers may be surprised by the potency of the final impact. Ages 14 — up. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , As the Panama Canal turns one hundred, Newbery Honor winner Margarita Engle tells the story of its creation in this powerful new YA historical novel in verse.
"Synopsis" by ,

One hundred years ago, the world celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, which connected the world’s two largest oceans and signaled America’s emergence as a global superpower. It was a miracle, this path of water where a mountain had stood—and creating a miracle is no easy thing. Thousands lost their lives, and those who survived worked under the harshest conditions for only a few silver coins a day.

     From the young "silver people" whose back-breaking labor built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, as only Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle could tell it.

"Synopsis" by , US
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