I’ve got a mixture of things to share with you as I wrap up Titanic Week. The anniversary is still over a week away, but I wanted to provide some interesting stuff that parents and kids might find useful for book reports or special projects or just plain useful trivia knowledge. I’m sure that next week will be full of Titanic-related news items and videos as we build up to the April 15th, the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. As I close this week of posts, I have five final items to share:
Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic by Marshall Everett
If you’re looking for just one book to give you the details on that fateful night, then you need to grab a copy of the book that was released in 1912 just after the sinking of the ship. In this book you’ll find interviews, first-hand accounts from survivors, rescuers, and family members as they react to the news of the sinking and discuss their experiences on the ship and off. The book has been reprinted with all the original artwork (as well as some updated images) and the layout and design of the hardback book has an antique look and feel with gold leaf page edging and a sepia tone paper. If you’re a history buff or have a child who has a thing for history, this is a great little collectible book that captures the style of writing and speaking of that time period. The first hand accounts, most of them direct quotes of those interviewed, are often sad, sometimes heroic, and completely chilling in the detail. Remember that Everett wrote this book almost immediately after the sinking, so memories were still fresh as were the wounds. Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic offers up the best first-hand accounts available, and many movies and fiction books have obviously used it as a reference when it comes to providing authenticity in dialogue and sequence of events.
National Geographic: Titanic As You’ve Never Seen It Before (on the iPad)
Fellow contributor Curtis Silver wrote previously about the April 2012 issue of National Geographic and its coverage of the Titanic wreck. It’s a great issue to own, but if you have an iPad (especially an iPad 3), you’re in for a real treat. Purchase the digital version of the magazine ($4.99) and you’ll be treated to a number of features including an animation of its sinking, high resolution images of the ocean floor that you can zoom in on and actually see the wreckage scattered and distances involved, and view complete images on all sides (as well as above) of the actual two main pieces of the hull. If you’ve got an iPad 3, you will not believe the detail you can see when you zoom in on the top of the resting hulls and observe metal handrails and other pieces of the ship’s infrastructure. I got goosebumps at one point as I zoomed in on the port holes still visible from the side view of the bow — the images are that vivid.
I spent almost an hour using the Explore the Crash Scene tool — various key pieces of the wreckage are annotated and touching them will offer up more details about what happened and why this or that piece ended up where it did. These are actual photos taken of the ocean floor, so once again… the sharp details provided in these zoomable images will blow you away. You can tell that National Geographic put a lot of time and energy into creating this digital interactive version of its April issue — I own both, and I can tell you that while the print version is nice, it cannot touch the digital version with its touchscreen and zoom functionalities. (The magazine will appear in the Newsstand app but you’ll need to use the iPad’s browser to visit nationalgeographic.com to make the purchase.)
Titanic – The Legend of the Unsinkable Ship by Beau Riffenburgh
I love books with props — little envelopes tucked inside that contain maps, letters, and other items that really bring a story to life. The Centenary Edition of Titanic — The Legend of the Unsinkable Ship is a full-color hardback book with plenty to offer in terms of information on the ship from its building to its final hours. But what makes this book really stand out are the twelve facsimile documents included in the three large envelopes glued inside the book at various locations. Items include a luggage tag, an inspection certificate for the ship, a telegram sent between the Titanic and the Carpathia, and many more.
Besides the reproductions included in the book, the content is well written and is perfect for middle and high school ages. I’ve read a lot on the Titanic, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of little facts in this book of which I was previously unaware. For example, I didn’t know that it was a trade journal called The Shipbuilder that had deemed the ship practically unsinkable. Good wiggle words there, huh? (I had always thought those words came from the ship’s designer, William Pirrie.)
Titanic — The Legend of the Unsinkable Ship is a bit hard to find right now, but don’t give up on hunting down a copy. Besides the text and images, you’ll find dozens of sidebars with even more background information, but I have to secretly admit that the reproduction documents are my favorite part.
Titanic — Build Your Own Titanic from Taschen
When I first heard about this book, I immediately asked the publisher, Taschen, to send me a copy so I could build this 53 inch (135cm) paper model of the Titanic. Little did I realize just how much work is involved in making this monster! As you can see from the photo here, I’m only about 1/3 done with the ship — I’ve got the base and the hull assembled and the fore and aft decks glued in. That’s about 4 hours of cutting, taping, and gluing. I figure it’ll be another 8 to 12 hours for me to finish the model. (And when it’s finished, I’ll be sure to post a final picture on the GeekDad Community site.)
What I like about this model is that there are two different versions inside — one for beginners and one for more experienced paper model builders. For example, you can actually cut out and create the lifeboats so that they appear as actual boat-shaped models… or you can club out the single long strips that just contain the images of the lifeboats, avoiding the detailed handiwork involved in making the small lifeboats bow outwards and keep their shape.
And while all of the parts in the book are pre-perforated, don’t even attempt to tear them out by hand as you’ll easily tear something important. Use scissors when possible and just take your time. I only reach for the blades for those really complicated cuts such as circles and small cutouts that scissor blades are just too large to make. Gluing can be a pain, too, so glue a little at a time and not all at once. I even used gator clips (for use with electronic tinkering) to hold tabs in place as the glue dries. It slows me down a bit but it prevents parts from shifting as the glue dries. So far, I’ve enjoyed building the model but I really am ready to finish it and see the completed model. When done, I’ll be donating it to my son’s school if they want it. It makes a great project for parent/child or even a classroom project. Instructions are easy to follow and every part is numbered. The assembly is broken into short sections, so you’ll only be dealing with a small number of parts at a time, so don’t go cutting out everything first… cut only what you need when you need it and everything will be easy to find later. After you Build Your Own Titanic, you’ll have a 1:200 scale model that is in no way suitable for the pool or bathtub.
James Cameron Narrates the Sinking
Take just a few minutes and listen to James Cameron do an impromptu narration of the sinking as the CGI animation plays on screen.