Twelve-year-old Kevin Messenger finds himself
caught up in a century-old mystery involving a ghost, an unexpected
inheritance and the sinking of the Titanic. Someone, somewhere,
needs his help.
The terror, anxiety and reality of the Titanic’s
fateful end come to life as Kevin tries to right the wrongs of
the past and put some troubled souls to rest.
"…contains all the necessary
ingredients to make it a classic children's mystery story."
USA: Holiday House, 2012
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-8234-2423-8
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Hebrew edition, published
by Dani Books in Israel
Story Behind the Story
The story of the Titanic has been told
many times and in many different ways. What isn't so well known is the
role that Halifax played in the aftermath of the disaster. On a visit
to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic way back in 1997, I learned that
Canadian cable ships were chartered by the White Star Line to go to
the disaster site, recover victims' bodies and take them to Halifax
for identification and/or burial. I also learned that the Fairview Lawn
Cemetery in Halifax has the largest number of Titanic victims
buried anywhere in the world, and that sailors had a long-standing tradition
of carving objects out of wreck wood.
I jotted down a few notes but never considered
writing about the Titanic. Ten years later, I still didn't consider
it. Especially after being immersed in the writing of No
Safe Harbour, a novel set during the 1917 explosion that destroyed
the north end of Halifax and took the lives of some 2000 people. No
way did I want to write about another disaster! But during my research
of the Halifax Explosion I discovered an intriguing fact that tied in
with the Titanic. And that had to do with the identification
bodies. A disaster equals bodies. And somebody has to deal with them.
Imagine what a gruesome, heart-wrenching and monumental task it must
be to recover and identify bodies. In the case of the Halifax Explosion,
the amazing thing is that the majority of victims were identified
thanks to a system developed five years earlier by a Dr. John
Henry Barnstead, the Deputy Registrar of Deaths in Halifax at the time
of the Titanic's sinking.
I was intrigued by Dr. Barnstead's skillfully
improvised system, particularly in its meticulous recording of details.
In a way, this further connection between Halifax and the Titanic
took me from one disaster to another.
Besides, it was time for a change. By the time
I started Ghosts of the Titanic I'd written four books for the
Our Canadian Girl series and
three books for the Dear Canada series
- all historical fiction from the perspective of young girls. Why not
a write a book that wasn't part of a series? Why not write from a boy's
point of view? And why not link his story with that of a sailor
on board the ship that goes out to retrieve victims' bodies? I imagined
the effect that such a grim task would have on a young seaman. What
if his actions had consequences that extended far beyond April 1912
and into the present day? This was the question that triggered Ghosts
of the Titanic, and gave rise to a demanding ghost, a haunted sailor,
and a mystified but determined contemporary teenage boy.
With an eye for historical detail, as well
as dialogue that rings true to both character and time-period,
Lawson has woven a fascinating fiction around historical fact.
Readers interested in the Titanic (and who isn't?) will
delight in the novel's backstory, which all happened one century
ago. Those wishing to know more about the subject can refer to
the Titanic website as well as visit Titanic: The Artefact
Exhibition, both of which our hero Kevin does in the novel.
Reference also to the Halifax Explosion will set readers in search
of more on that story. They would do well to seek out another
Lawson gem, No Safe Harbour.
Via tight plotting and consistently believable
relationships, Lawson has created another great historical action
novel, and a timely one at that - the 100th anniversary of the
iconic disaster is only months away. Ghosts of the Titanic
brought back the excitement I remember so fondly upon receiving
my much-anticipated Scholastic orders as a youth.
[Read entire review here.]
CM, June 10, 2011
"Lawson creates instantly familiar characters
and vivid settings. She fills Ghosts of the Titanic with
enough history and facts which will have some young readers looking
for books on the Titanic once they are finished, yet never
makes the story feel like a history lesson … Like the best children's
writers, Lawson never talks down to her readers, which is one
of the reasons Ghosts of the Titanic is such an enjoyable
read for an adult as well."
"This story is an excellent blend of past and
present. A ghost from the Titanic haunts Kevin as he tries
to unravel the truth behind his father's unexpected inheritance."
Listen to Julie's
interview on CBC as she talks about her start as an author, her
writing process, and the inspiration that led to Ghosts of the Titanic.
Read an interview with Julie Lawson here.
to Buy this book
Ghosts of the Titanic is available now:
1. at your local bookstore or children's bookstore.
2. by placing an order with your local bookstore or online bookseller.
3. directly from the publisher, Scholastic
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