By Irene N. Watts
Published by Tundra Books
ISBN #978-0-88776-971-9 (0-88776-971-3)
To mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I wanted to review two great classroom reads based on the tragic tale.
I am dazzled by the sight of the Titanic. The great crowd of people, gazing up from the dockside, seem in much in awe as I am, all of us dwarfed by the vast ship. I never imagined it would be so overwhelming. The wonder and mystery frighten me, more so when I realize we are embarking on the ship’s maiden voyage.
Irene N. Watts’ wonderfully rich story follows fourteen-year old Louisa as she accepts the job as nursemaid in the home of a wealthy London family. Louisa is to help Nanny take care of two lovely little girls, but she soon realizes that meeting the rigid expectations of the tyrannical Nanny will be the toughest part of the job! Watts’ provides the reader with delicious details regarding the inner workings of a Lord and Lady’s manor; Downton Abbey fans will love this story! Your students will be quick to side with Louisa in her tangles with Nanny and will cheer her on as she tries to hold her head high and keep her job. In a turn of events, however, Louisa is expected to accompany the family on their visit to New York, and as the manor around her excitedly prepares the family and attending servants to board the Titanic, Louisa is filled with dread.
No Moon portrays a distinctive point of view of the Titanic story, since Louisa is not much more than a child herself yet is responsible for the care of two little girls. Her story of survival encompasses many twists in the plot and will keep readers spellbound as the luxury and safety of the ship begins to fall apart around the passengers.
Again, this is an ideal novel for a social studies or humanities classroom, and students will gain a vivid perspective of the time period through Louisa’s eyes. Creative writing opportunities abound within this subject matter; students could choose a fictional character from the book and re-write the sinking scene from the character’s point of view. Students could also take on a character and write a “two weeks after the sinking of the Titanic…” story, describing what happens to a certain character once they’re back on dry land. No Moon is a splendid read that resonates with the culture of the time and hints at the societal changes soon to come.