Friday, September 28, 2012

Return to Titanic series by Steve Brezenoff

Over the course of four books, a couple of young adventurers repeatedly time-travel to the Titanic (by illicitly touching artifacts in the back room of a museum where the boy's mom works). By the time the series is finished, readers know the whole story of the mighty Titanic's sinking from the perspective of those on the oceanliner.

Comparison to American Girl books seem suitable - both try to make history come alive for contemporary kids, and both use protagonists similar in age to prospective readers in order to place you in the character's shoes. Super short chapters and liberal pencil-sketch illustrations pitch the books even to reluctant readers. Unlike American Girl books, which have an unabashedly female audience, since the main characters here are a boy and girl (friends, not siblings) you may be able to entice boys to read the books.

I really liked the way they involved you emotionally in the historic drama; the reader and the main characters all have the luxury of historical perspective and understand the clock is ticking down until disaster. But I was annoyed by the every-other-page "will they escape" plot points - an extended effort to keep kids interested, but overly dramatic and tiresome.

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