BLIZZARD OF GLASS: THE HALIFAX EXPLOSION OF 1917
By Sally M. Walker
Henry Holt, 2011
Category: Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction
I picked up an Advance Reader’s Edition of this book at the annual conference of the American Library Association last month. Technically, I am too biased to review it: Sally Walker is a friend and Henry Holt is publishing my own next book. But I’m not the sort of girl that would let those things sway her into praising a book she didn’t love … and I love this book too much not to sing about it.
In 1917, a ship carrying munitions into Halifax Harbor collided with another ship, setting off what was then the largest man-made explosion in history. The accident happened on an otherwise humdrum December morning, and Sally Walker tells the story perfectly, bringing readers into Halifax, showing them around, feeding them breakfast, walking them to school, and leading them, moment by painstaking moment, toward the disaster that changed the community forever. She gives special attention to those facets of the story that will most intrigue young people, and she does so with respect and care for both her subjects and her readers.
This is narrative nonfiction at its finest, folks. A page-turner right out of the history books, a disaster story told not for its shock value, but for its enduring value. Today’s kids are surrounded by disaster—natural or manmade, real or in sound-byte. To some of them, it may feel as if disaster is a new thing, as if dealing with it is something humans are not equipped for. The fact is—and BLIZZARD OF GLASS readers come to understand this—we humans have dealt with disaster for our entire history. And time and again, we’ve come together, in community, to help one another through. That message rings powerfully in this book, and its why I made sure both my tweens had a chance to read it before I passed it along, with rave reviews, to my town librarian.
BLIZZARD OF GLASS will be available in bookstores on November 22, 2011. Don’t miss it!
Edited to add:
It’s Nonfiction Monday, which means a gaggle of bloggers are talking about children’s nonfiction. You can see a roundup of today’s offerings at the proseandkahn blog. As always, you can read up on Nonfiction Monday celebrations at the official website.