I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 — “I Survived” Series

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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “I Survived” series.

Plot Summary

Ten-year-old George Calder and his little sister, Phoebe, have been visiting their Aunt Daisy in London. Nothing could thrill them more than sailing home to America on the famed Titanic. George spends his time exploring the gigantic ship and even has a chance to speak with the architect and see the blueprints.

George hears a rumor that someone is transporting a mummy, and he’s determined to get a look at it. Late one night, he sneaks into the cargo hold and begins to open the box. There, he runs into a thief from third class who takes George’s pocket knife. The ship suddenly begins to shake and make loud noises. George uses the opportunity to escape.

Once he’s back on the deck, George sees people throwing snowballs at one another. Everyone is laughing because the ship seems to have grazed an iceberg. George goes back to bed, until a crewman knocks on the door of the suite he shares with Phoebe and Aunt Daisy. The man tells them the captain wants everyone on deck, just as a precaution. Aunt Daisy is irritated that people are expected to do this in the middle of the night in their bed clothes. She goes to wake Phoebe but finds the girl is missing.

George thinks Phoebe probably heard him sneak out and tried to follow him to see the mummy. She’s left a trail of lemon drops so she won’t get lost on the enormous vessel. George and Aunt Daisy follow the trail until they reach a gate behind which the poorer passengers are locked. Aunt Daisy demands a crew member let them in to look for Phoebe, and they soon find themselves trapped as well. A little Italian boy named Enzo, whom George met earlier, calls out to George. Enzo and his father, Marco, are traveling to America to make a new life. Marco lifts Enzo up on his shoulders, and Enzo cries out Phoebe’s name until she comes running through the crowd.

Since George saw the ship’s blueprints, he knows a secret way back to the deck. He leads the way for Aunt Daisy, Phoebe, Enzo and Marco. His aunt, sister and Enzo are placed on a lifeboat, but Marco knows the men must stay behind. When George tries to board the lifeboat, he’s denied. It’s implied that the reason is because the boats are full and George is male, though he’s only 10. Marco holds on to George as the ship begins to go under. He tells George to jump into the water with him, and he finds a piece of wood that will allow them to float in the icy sea. After his heroic efforts to save the boy, Marco is exhausted and barely moving. A makeshift lifeboat sails by. George jumps in, painstakingly pulling Marco with him. After hours in the boat, a larger ship called the Carpathia rescues them. Enzo, Phoebe and Aunt Daisy are aboard as well.

Back in America, Enzo stays with Aunt Daisy while Marco is being treated in the hospital. George suspects Daisy and Marco are interested in one another, and he hopes Marco and Enzo will stay around. Back on the farm with Papa, George still feels the anxiety of what he’s experienced. He realizes he is not the carefree young boy who set out on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Papa suggests they build a little boat to use on their pond, and this gives George a sense of hope for the future.

Christian Beliefs

People pray on the lifeboats as they sail away from the sinking ship.

Other Belief Systems

Some passengers are spooked at the idea that there may be a mummy in the cargo hold. They believe it’s bad luck to take a mummy from its tomb.

Authority Roles

George’s mother died several years earlier. He and Phoebe live with Papa in America. Aunt Daisy, with whom they stay in London, is in her early 20s and playful with the kids. They travel home to America with her. Mr. Andrews, the Titanic’s architect, shares the blueprints with George and answers his many questions without complaint. He even suggests George could build a ship someday. Marco uses all his strength to save George after the Titanic begins to sink.

Profanity & Violence

None

Sexual Content

None

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments

Lying: George lies when cornered by a thief in the cargo hold.

Smoking: George’s papa smokes a pipe.

Class warfare: The poor are trapped behind a locked gate, which implies that many of them perish.

After the story, the book includes author’s notes and historical facts about the sinking of the Titanic.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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