ICEBERG, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Scholastic Press, March 7, 2023, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
A young stowaway onboard the Titanic uncovers a dastardly plot in Iceberg, a new middle-grade novel by Jennifer A. Nielsen.
Hazel Rothbury is traveling all alone from her home in England aboard the celebrated ship Titanic. Following the untimely death of her father, Hazel’s mother is sending her to the US to work in a factory, so that she might send money back home to help her family make ends meet.
But Hazel harbors a secret dream: She wants to be a journalist, and she just knows that if she can write and sell a story about the Titanic’s maiden voyage, she could earn enough money to support her family and not have to go to a sweatshop. When Hazel discovers that mother didn’t send her with enough money for a ticket, she decides she must stow away onboard the storied ship.
With the help of a porter named Charlie and a sweet first-class passenger named Sylvia, Hazel explores the opulent ship in secret, but a haunting mystery quickly finds her. The danger only intensifies when calamity strikes, and readers will be caught up in the terror and suspense alongside Hazel as she fights to save her friends and herself. —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Press
There’s something about the Titanic that draws people in. More than 110 years since its tragic sinking, people still clamor to hear stories about the unsinkable ship that was taken out by an iceberg.
In Iceberg, Jennifer A. Nielsen imagines what that journey could have been like for a young stowaway.
Nielsen has become a master at historical fiction for children (A Night Divided, Resistance, Lines of Courage). She makes past events come alive by artfully telling the story through mystery, action and compelling characters. The same is true of Iceberg.
At the center of the story is Hazel, a quick-thinking young woman who has an eye for details and boundless curiosity. By making Hazel a young person, Nielsen has not only made her relatable to readers, but she’s made her someone who can easily move about the ship. With a borrowed dress, Hazel can move within the different classes, giving readers a glimpse of life for everyone onboard.
Nielsen’s writing is warm and practiced. She writes to her audience, challenging them to solve Hazel’s mystery alongside her. Nielsen’s pacing, too, is spot-on, echoing the experiences — both languid and immediate — of the passengers.
Iceberg is a fast-paced survival story that will appeal to a wide cross-section of readers. It works well as an individual read or as a read-aloud in a classroom setting. It’s thrilling and suspenseful and will have readers on the edge of their seats.
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