Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship.”

Holt. Oct. 2019. 288p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781627795548.
Gr 5-8–Heiligman tells a story of bravery, courage, and despair through the eyes of the passengers on the SS City of Benares, a ship commissioned to sail to Canada with 100 children on board during World War II. The SS City of Benares was torpedoed by a German submarine. The imagery of the waves hitting the lifeboats and rafts as the survivors hung on for life is so vivid that readers almost feel as if they, too, are fighting for their lives. Heiligman includes information about the lascars, or Indian sailors, many of whom gave their lives to save as many people as they could. The book is filled with photographs, illustrations, and letters written from the children to their families, as well as the telegraphs reporting the deaths of those on board. The extensive back matter, paired with the author’s deft narrative touch, makes this title a must purchase for libraries, a must-read for all, and a beautiful memorial for those who perished in this tragic event.
VERDICT Expect this book to garner Heiligman another nonfiction award. Pair this with Susan Wood’s historical fiction novel Lifeboat 12.

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