This is history at its best, an original and appealing way to mark the centennial of this familiar disaster.



A memorial edition of an imagined magazine covers the construction and fateful voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic, Queen of the Ocean, which sank in April 1912.

As in Lincoln Shot! (2008), the design alludes to the historical period, here using the dimensions and sepia tones of an old-time newspaper supplement. Visually dramatic pages are filled with photos and memorabilia as well as eyewitness accounts that add to the “You are there” effect. The first third of Denenberg’s narrative consists of articles purportedly published between 1903 and 1912, the second is the unfinished (and miraculously recovered) journal of the magazine’s correspondent. The final section includes a chronology of the ship’s final hours, statements from survivors and an interview with the captain of the rescue ship, all based on actual testimony. A “note from the publisher” closes the narrative with a short round-up of what followed. This is a story of heroism as well as personal and corporate greed, issues that still resonate today. The text is lively, compelling and convincing, but written to answer 21st-century readers’ questions. Because readers know the outcome, many of the chosen quotations sound ironic, especially cheerful reiterations that the ship is unsinkable.

This is history at its best, an original and appealing way to mark the centennial of this familiar disaster. (author’s note, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction.10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01243-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Personal notes give this stirring tribute to speed, power, and technological prowess an unusually intimate air.



Childhood memories, as well as loads of historical and archival research, anchor a history of ocean liners from the invention of steam pumps to the magnificent SS United States.

Linked by recollections of his own family’s 1957 journey from the U.K. to New York aboard the United States, Macaulay traces the development of steam-powered ships from a small 1783 paddle-driven experiment to the 990-foot monster that still holds the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing by a ship of its type. Ignoring the Titanic-like tragedies, he focuses on design and engineering—mixing profile portraits of dozens of increasingly long, sleek hulls with lovingly detailed cutaway views of boilers, turbines, and power trains, structural elements being assembled (sometimes with the help of a giant authorial hand reaching down from the skies), and diagrams of decks and internal workings. All of this is accompanied by sure, lucid explanations and culminates in a humongous inside view of the United States on a multiple gatefold, with very nearly every room and cupboard labeled. Having filled in the historical highlights, the author turns to his own story with an account of the five-day voyage and his first impressions of this country that are made more vivid by reconstructed scenes and family photos. A waiter in one of the former is the only person of color in clear view, but human figures of any sort are rare throughout.

Personal notes give this stirring tribute to speed, power, and technological prowess an unusually intimate air. (timeline, further reading) (Nonfiction/memoir. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-477-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A killer thriller.


Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020


Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A dramatic story related in dramatic fashion.



On May 10, 1869, a golden spike joined the Central Pacific’s and the Union Pacific’s tracks, linking the nation with two continuous bands of steel, “and things would never be the same.”

To lay 1,800 miles of track over prairies, deserts, and mountains would be “one of the greatest and most daring adventures the nation had ever seen,” and across that land the “Anvil Chorus” sang, 21 million swings of the sledges in six years of laying tracks. With lively prose and striking photographs, Sandler tells the amazing story of engineering marvels, extraordinary courage, and sheer determination. When the railroad was finished, the country could be crossed in less than a week instead of six months, and the nation was united. Well-chosen archival photographs and excellent maps help to tell the tale, though too many pages of dense text are unbroken by visuals. Sandler celebrates the phenomenal achievement without losing sight of those who did not benefit from it: Chinese workers faced discrimination, and the railroad was but the latest “encroachment of white society upon the Indians.” A fascinating epilogue relates what later happened to each of the key players introduced in the narrative, and a thorough timeline serves as a summary of important events.

A dramatic story related in dramatic fashion. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6527-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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