White, Ellen Emerson. Voyage of the Great Titanic: the Diary of Margaret Ann Brady. Scholastic, 1998. ISBN 0-590-96273-6. $9.95. 197 pp. A- 4+ FI Reviewed by Sandra L. Tidwell Fourteen-year-old Margaret Ann Brady is hired as a companion/maid for the wealthy Mrs. Cartstairs, who will be sailing from London to New York on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Margaret, who was orphaned at a young age, grew up at the St. Abernathy's Orphanage for Girls in Whitechapel. She thought herself very fortunate to receive free passage to America, where she planned to join her brother, William, in Boston. Margaret's twenty-four diary entries tell the reader of the sharp contrast between her childhood and the elegant life of a first-class passenger on the Titanic. It also describes the sudden, tragic sinking that killed over 1500 people. Margaret was one of about 700 survivors. This is another book in the Dear America series, which provides an interesting avenue for young readers to relive history through another child's point of view. However, it is only a fictionalized account. White explains this at the end of the book:”Margaret Ann Brady is a fictional character, created by the author, and her diary is a work of fiction.” Margaret is a believable character, but at times the insights and attitudes Margaret expressed were unrealistic for a fourteen-year-old who grew up in the working class in London and had very little education outside of the girl's school. With a fictional character, the “Epilogue,” which tells the reader what Margaret did after she arrived in New York City and explains the rest of her life, may mislead young readers. Obviously, Margaret is a composite of the lives of many real people. Which people? A more fitting epilogue would have told the reader about the lives on which the author based her fictional character, and what became of them after they survived this terrible tragedy. I did enjoy the historical note entitled “Life in America: 1912,” which tells other particulars about the Titanic and includes pictures of the huge ocean liner, maps of the voyage, and a timeline. The Titanic continues to be a popular topic for all ages. This selection would be a good addition to a school or public library fiction collection.
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