Synopses & Reviews
Arrogance and innocence, hubris and hope--twenty-four haunting voices of the Titanic tragedy, as well as the iceberg itself, are evoked in a stunning tour de force.
Millionaire John Jacob Astor hopes to bring home his pregnant teen bride with a minimum of media scandal. A beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers the first stirrings of love. And an ancient iceberg glides south, anticipating its fateful encounter. The voices in this remarkable re-creation of the Titanic disaster span classes and stations, from Margaret ("the unsinkable Molly") Brown to the captain who went down with his ship; from the lookout and wireless men to a young boy in search of dragons and a gambler in search of marks. Slipping in telegraphs, undertaker's reports, and other records, poet Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse at the lives behind the tragedy, told with clear-eyed compassion and astounding emotional power.
Extensive back matter includes:
Morse code with messages to decipher
Bibliography, articles, periodicals, government documents, discography
"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.
Winner of the 2015 Américas Award
A Jane Addams Award Honor Book
Green Earth Book Awards Honor Book
* "A masterful command of language and space. . . Engle blends the voices of her fictional characters, historical figures, and even the forest into a dynamic coming-of-age story not only of young adults but also of a blustering and arrogant United States."
—VOYA, 5Q 5P M J S
* "Engle's extraordinary book is a tour de force of verisimilitude and beautifully realized verse that brings to empathetic life the silver people."
—Booklist, starred review
"As always, Engle's poetry captures with sympathetic wonder and delicate beauty the plight of these disenfranchised voices; here in particular she highlights the natural beauty and love that Mateo, Anita, and Henry find and cling to in the midst of their back- and heart-breaking labor."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"In melodic verses, Engle offers the voices of three [Panama Canal] workers…Taken together, they provide an illuminating picture of the ecological sacrifices and human costs behind a historical feat generally depicted as a triumph."
—Horn Book Magazine
"This richly developed novel is an excellent addition to any collection. In this compelling story, Engle paints a picture of an often [over]-looked area and highlights the struggles of the people and the arrogance of the Americans."
—School Library Journal
A Junior Library Guild Selection
Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year
An NCTE Notable Book in the English Language Arts
ALSC Notable Books in the Social Sciences
CCBC Choice Fiction for Young Adults
CCBC Global Reading list
Best Multicultural Books, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature
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.
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.
About the Author
Allan Wolf, an expert poet and storyteller, is the author of the award-winning novels NEW FOUND LAND:LEWIS AND CLARK'S VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY and ZANE'S TRACE. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.