If you’ve got a child who is curious and old enough to handle the tragedy of the Titanic, then I’ve got a great book to recommend to you. You may even enjoy it yourself as I did. There are so many books on the Titanic, but most of them have grainy and/or black and white photos and are often not written with a younger audience in mind. That’s not the case with Explore Titanic, a full-color over-sized book that offers some beautifully laid out pages that tell the story of the great ship from the moment its designers began discussing its creation to the rescue of its passengers and some modern day visits to the bottom of the ocean.
Every page is filled with facts about the ship, but it’s the full color images that make each page worthy of deeper exploration. Postcards, images of dinnerware, brochures, crew name tags, tickets, and much more… items that either survived or were brought up from the bottom of the ocean… all these things are arranged on the page in such a way that you want to examine every little corner, every photo, and every handwritten note. And each page also contains color images that were created using computer software and look as photo realistic as possible.
It’s not a long book — only 40 pages. A parent and child can easily read all the bits and pieces of the story in about 30 minutes, but give yourself a little more time if you really wish to enjoy all the great photos and other imagery. Topics in the book include The Big Idea, Building Titanic, The Voyage Begins, Dinner Is Served, and many more. Each topic is covered using two pages that allow a large spread of one full-color computer generated image surrounded by smaller images and text. Each topic has a theme, and the color and design of the spread lend itself to the topic at hand. Traveling First Class, for example, has its text and imagery overlaid on an extravagant red wallpaper that would fit perfectly fine in a first class cabin. Meanwhile, the layout for In Steerage (3rd class) is more rough, with aged photos and smudged journal entries along with examples of the china that would have been used (much lower quality and definitely not as fancy). Again, the layout of each two-page spread is gorgeous and the use of older fonts makes the book feel like you’re getting an authentic look into the time period.
And speaking of those full color computer generated images — the book also comes with a CD that allows you to take a tour of the Titanic. It runs in a web browser, and I’m including some screenshots here to give you an idea of the vivid detail that went into creating this walkthrough. Controls let you zoom in and out on details (such as the actual clock at the Grand Staircase that is ticking away), as well as rotation tools that let you turn in place and look in all directions including up and down. I spent 10 minutes just exploring the wheelhouse where the navigator received orders for speed and direction. The dining room walkthrough really shows you how the First Class travelers were treated during meals. And taking a tour on the deck (including looking out from the crow’s nest where the iceberg was first spotted) is incredible… it’s as close as you’ll likely ever get to standing on the real deck and seeing how long the Titanic really was!
I cannot recommend Explore Titanic enough if you’re interested in the Titanic or have a child who wants to know more. It’s just extremely well-done. The CD tour sealed the deal for me, and I love having this book on the shelf to share with my boys one day when they’re older.
A few other things related to the Titanic:
1. I need to issue a correction from the post on Monday — the History Channel’s broadcast of Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved will be on April 15, 2012, not April 14, 2012 at 8pm EDT. More details can be found on The History Channel’s website.
2. An animation of the sinking of the Titanic has been released by Next Media Animation (NMA), Hong Kong and Taiwan’s largest media company. I’m embedding their video below.