Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Escaping Titanic by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Kory S. Heinzen

Pub date: February 1, 2012.

Commemorate the Titanic's disastrous voyage with this harrowing tale of survival. Follow the true story of young Ruth Elizabeth Becker as her awe of the mighty Titanic turns to horror when she is separated from her mother and siblings. (netgalley.com)

I think I've reviewed all of two picture books in my three years of blogging so forgive me if this comes across as a little too short. I just don't know what to say about it!

Well, I loved the illustrations. At times they were both beautiful and goofy, capturing the majesty of the Titanic along with the people sailing on it. But I couldn't help but think that for a story that really is so serious, the expressions on some of the faces were a little too cartoony and goofy. One panel showed one of the stewards coming into the room and telling everyone to get their lifebelts on. But instead of a serious face, he looks a bit cross-eyed. Yeah it makes the scene lighter and I know it's a picture book but still . . . it almost seemed . . . inappropriate. I don't know if this is something typical of a picture book, to lighten up a more dramatic scene with untoward facial expressions so as not to frighten the children reading it but it felt a little off.

The story itself was succinct. It would be a bit morbid to think that the girl was doing anything but surviving the end of the story so you knew it was coming but that doesn't mean there wasn't a tense moment where she was left on a ship as she watched the rest of her family get lowered in a lifeboat. And then when the lifeboats are rescued you wonder if she's going to find her family. For about half a second. The story is really in the illustrations, the words acting merely as captions to supplement the visuals. It's not that they're bad; there's just more to be garnered from the drawings.

As a childless 28-year-old female reading a picture book, I've come across better. The story's a little dry and the illustrations are a bit bipolar but it was still enjoyable to this Titanic nut. From the POV of a child reading this, I can definitely see how they would really enjoy the pictures and how the small story itself would suck them right in, how they would hinge on every word and wonder if the girl was going to make it out okay. Damn jadedness. Personally I was more interested in the information about Ruth at the end of the story. How she never told anyone that she was a Titanic survivor until 1982 when the wreckage started getting poked at and she came forward about it. That's a long time to sit on something like that.

So really, there's something for everyone. A great story for the kids and a little bit of extra information for the adults reading it to them. Plus some great pictures for all.

Ban Factor: Low - Seriously. Unless they take issue with the mention of people's screaming death throes (although watered down a bit in the book), there's nothing wrong with this one.
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