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I thought when I read the synopsis of this book, that I would learn a bit of history wrapped up in story form. And I did. Torpedoed brought me into the lives of a number of children. Their dreams and friendships, their family lives, and their personalities. Not only that, I learned about the German side of the equation as well. Let me share this amazing review, telling a spot of the war that I didn’t know before, with you eh?
What I am Reviewing
Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of ‘The Children’s Ship’
Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers
340 pages, ages 10-14
Received: Advanced Reader’s Copy
Reviewed for Raincoast Books.
Middle School, World War II, War, Ships, Rescue, Torpedo, Military, WW2, WWII, History, Boats, Europe, Survival,
Amid the constant rain of German bombs and the escalating violence of World War II, British parents by the thousands chose to send their children out of the country: the wealthy, independently; the poor, through a government relocation program called CORB. In September 1940, passenger liner SS City of Benares set sail for Canada with one hundred children on board.
When the war ships escorting the Benares departed, a German submarine torpedoed what became known as the Children’s Ship. Out of tragedy, ordinary people became heroes. This is their story.
The Details about Torpedoed
29 chapters over 304 pages, along with end notes, survivor and death lists and other information. But this doesn’t tell the full story. We follow the lives of several children before, during and after the torpedo attack. Some of those children survive and others do not.
This story is told with sensitivity, acknowledging the pain of the families who lost loved ones. Not only that, it acknowledged the pain the operator of the U-boat felt when he learned children were on-board that vessel.
We are particularly brought into the lives of the CORB children. CORB stands for Children Overseas Reception Board. These were British children sent to live with relatives in the dominions and United States. We followed families, brothers and sisters, and individual children. For some children this was their second attempt to head for safety.
I absolutely loved the simple line drawings. Those black and white pencil sketches fit the nature of this tome so perfectly.
Scattered throughout were photos, telegrams, dispatches and the like. Actual letters and photos from the day. The author used remembered words and phrases as much as possible. This story is as true as she can make it be. Actual accounts as much as can be remembered by survivors and their families.
Initially this was a story about details. Details about families and reasons for choosing to send their children away to safety. It was a story about the escalation in Germany’s determination to break the British. Then it changed, it became a story about children with hopes and dreams. Children sad to be away from their parents. We learned of children delighted to have a whole ship to explore.
Then it became a story of decisions. Of boys turning into men right before my eyes. Of young ladies showing grit and determination, and suddenly it was a book I needed to finish. I needed to know if my boy Colin would survive… so I kept reading and my boys listened to my “No, no, no’s”.
Read, be wrapped up in lives, be saddened, and be hopeful. Be filled with joy at the ones who were rescued. Realize the horror of those lost.
This too was part of the war. Hard for people on both sides. Devastating for families, a heart cry for a nation. Torpedoed is a book worth reading.