The Bulletin of

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of the Center for Children's Books

The Bulletin Dozen is a monthly theme-based booklist available as an online-only Bulletin feature. Since we're awfully fond of bakers here at the Bulletin, we thought we'd adopt their philosophy of generosity and throw in an extra one or two when we have them to offer--so don't expect an even dozen. Please feel free to copy, download, or link to these lists. We ask only that you cite the source. See the archive for lists from previous months.

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S.O.S.  A Disastrous Dozen

--selected by Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor

Perhaps it’s the heartstopping thrill of considering “what would I do?” or maybe its just the poignancy of witnessing the resilience of the human spirit, but whatever the reason, tragedy has always made for excellent storytelling. In honor of the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, we give you a Dozens that, while certainly filled with disasters, offers plenty of compelling tales.

disaster dozen

Aronson, Marc. Trapped : How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert. Atheneum, 2011. Gr. 5-9

Noted historian shifts his focus to current events in this riveting and comprehensive look at the 2011 Chilean mining disaster that covers not only the rescue of the 33 trapped miners but also examines the geological factors and shady mining practices that contributed to the crisis.  (BCCB 9/11)


Hampton, Wilborn. September 11, 2001: Attack on New York City. Candlewick, 2003. Gr. 5-9

Unsensational reporting, crisp black and white photos, and a clear timeline mark this poignant account that follows several individuals as the events of September 11, 2001, unfold. (BCCB 1/04)


Hopkinson, Deborah. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. Scholastic, 2012. Gr. 5-8

This chronological, straightforward retelling of the infamous maritime disaster features period photographs, firsthand recollections of survivors, wreckage reports and a plethora of backmatter that make it the go-to source for Titanic aficionados.

(BCCB 4/12)


Kops, Deborah. The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919. Charlesbridge, 2012. Gr. 4-7

The tale of this sticky disaster initially sounds like a joke but Kops’ accessible and gripping account of the flood of molasses that swept through northern Boston makes it clear that the tragedy that took 21 lives is no laughing matter.  (BCCB 3/12)


Marrin, Albert. Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy. Knopf, 2011. Gr. 6-10

Marrin meticulously reassembles the factors that led up to the deadliest day in the New York garment industry, including the immigrant wave of the late 1800s and disastrous factory conditions. (BCCB 5/11)


Murphy, Jim. An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. Clarion, 2003. Gr. 5-10

Murphy's account of a city under devastating siege is both gripping and richly informative. (BCCB 6/03)


Neufeld, Josh. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. Pantheon, 2009. (not reviewed)

This brilliantly illustrated follows the lives of seven New Orleans residents before, during, and after the 2005 hurricane. 


Osborn, Mary Pope. Pompeii: Lost and Found; frescoes by Bonnie Christensen. Knopf, 2006. Gr. 3-5

The focus here is mainly on the archeological finds that have allowed historians to recreate the environment and culture of the Roman city, making this an excellent choice for younger readers. (BCCB 2/06)


Philbrick, Nathaniel. Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex. Putnam, 2002. Gr. 8-12

This juvenile version of Philbrick's adult work loses no tension or excitement in its factual chronicle of the terrible disaster of the nineteenth-century whaling ship, the Essex. (BCCB 11/02)


Walker, Sally M. Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H. L. Hunley. Carolrhoda, 2005. Gr. 5-8

A first-rate tale of scholarly sleuthing, this account of scientists' reconstruction of a submarine's history goes beyond well-told shipwreck narrative to uncover some surprises. (6/05)


Walker, Sally M. Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917. Holt, 2011. Gr. 5-8
The collision of two munitions ships in Halifax harbor caused an explosion second in force only to the dropping of the atomic bomb and devastated the city; Walker includes scientific detail and moving first person narrative in her chilling account of the tragedy. (BCCB 11/11)


Wolf, Allan. The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic. Candlewick, 2011. Gr 7-10

In his poetic revision of the Titanic disaster, Wolf draws from primary and secondary sources to recast the tale through a variety of perspectives, including passengers from all classes, an undertaker from Halifax, a hungry rat, and the iceberg itself. (BCCB 10/11)

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This page was last updated on April 1, 2012.