Reviews for Watch That Ends the Night : Voices from the Titanic


Booklist Reviews 2011 September #2
*Starred Review* With the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic disaster approaching, expect a new flood of works addressing the infamous disaster, though it's difficult to believe any will surpass this masterpiece. Using free-form poems from the points of view of two dozen travelers, Wolf has composed a multi-octave chorus of voices that is alternately--sometimes simultaneously--spirited, angry, frightened, and mournful. There is the crew ("But my Titanic, she is a graceful whale," says Captain E. J. Smith), the first-class elite ("The only ice I knew of / was in the gin and tonic that I lifted," says businessman Bruce Ismay), the third-class rabble ("We waited for someone to show us to our boats," says hopeful immigrant Olaus Abelseth), and, in two brilliant, audacious moves, a ship rat that seems to represent the desperate will to live ("follow the food") and the iceberg itself, a godlike monolith that acts as omniscient narrator and Greek chorus ("I am the ice. / I see tides ebb and flow. / I've watched civilizations come and go."). Wolf leaves no emotion unplumbed, no area of research uninvestigated, and his voices are so authentic they hurt. Nothing recommends this to a YA audience, in particular, but who cares? Everyone should read it. Outstanding, insightful back matter completes this landmark work. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Wolf's novel in verse gives voice, through first-person accounts, to a cross section of Titanic passengers and crew. Hovering over all is the omniscient "Iceberg," providing a menacing voiceover throughout the narrative. The themes of natural disaster, technology, social class, survival, and death all play out here. Explanatory character notes separate verifiable fact from fiction and address conflicting reports. Websites. Bib. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #5
Wolf's novel in verse gives voice, through first-person accounts, to a cross section of passengers and crew on the Titanic: how they boarded, why they're there, and how they face the disaster. They run the gamut from the famous (John Jacob Astor, the richest man in the world) to the obscure (Olaus Abelseth, a Norse immigrant traveling in third class); from crew members (Captain E. J. Smith and Harold Bride, the "spark," or assistant telegraphic officer) to fictionalized characters (such as stoker Thomas Hart). Hovering over all is the omniscient "Iceberg," inexorably floating toward the ship and providing a menacing voiceover throughout the narrative. Interspersed are Marconi-grams to and from the Titanic, observations from the First and Third Class promenades, and records of recovered bodies and personal effects. Several concrete poems add visual interest; the Iceberg poems gradually get shorter as the monster melts, and the melee above decks is shown through a series of four-line poems surrounded by snippets of frantic conversation that converge in the gutter. As the ship sinks, the words of shipbuilder Thomas Andrews's poem tilt and then drop off the page. The themes of natural disaster, technology, social class, survival, and death all play out here. Explanatory character notes separate verifiable fact from fiction and address conflicting reports. A[Thu Aug 21 04:25:06 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. transcription of Morse code messages, a list of Titanic miscellany, and a thorough bibliography conclude the book. betty carter Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 August #2

Twenty-four voices—of passengers, rats and even the iceberg—evoke the human tragedy of the ill-fated voyage.

Titanic was a floating city, "the largest moving thing on the planet ever made by man." She sank quickly on the night of April 14-15, 1912, and only 712 of the 2,207 passengers survived. Wolf brings the history and, more importantly, the human scale of the event to life by giving voice to the players themselves—the captain, the lookout, the millionaire, the socialite and various workers and passengers representing all classes of society that floated to their doom. The undertaker, out of Halifax, is the first voice, penultimate voice and intermittent commentator, gathering floating clumps of corpses in "a dead man's sad regatta." The iceberg, the voice of the ages, floats with a primordial indifference... but with a plan. Rats have the last word, as they scurry off to "follow the future / follow the food." As he did in New Found Land: Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery (2004), Wolf draws on a prodigious amount of  research to fully realize each character; they are real people just telling their stories, all the more poignant because readers know their fates and recognize prophetic comments along the way. Extensive backmatter includes character notes, a Titanic miscellany and a large bibliography with books, websites and audio resources for the many readers who will want to know more.

A lyrical, monumental work of fact and imagination that reads like an oral history revved up by the drama of the event. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
The year 2012 marks the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic. Here, Wolf gives poetic voice to two dozen passengers and crew-including John Jacob Astor, the "unsinkable" Margaret Brown, a baker, and a Lebanese immigrant-as the iceberg breaches the ship's starboard hull and sinks it into the cold North Atlantic over the course of one fateful night. The voices are mostly based on real people, and Wolf concludes the book with extensive character notes, Titanic miscellany, and a bibliography. Plugged by no less poet than Ted Kooser, this dramatic re-creation sets a high watermark for the batch of books that are sure to appear this coming year. - "35 Going on 13" LJ Reviews 2/16/2012 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2012 March/April
Wolf employs free-form poetry in his fictional recreation of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, as observed by those who were directly impacted. The ship rat, millionaire John Jacob Astor, "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Captain Smith, refugee Jamila Nicola-Yarred, shipbuilder Thomas Andrews, and the iceberg are just a few of the 25 voices heard. This is a well-detailed and historically accurate portrayal of the events and brings the feelings and emotions of the characters alive. The extensive back matter includes an author's note, Morse code with messages to decipher, Titanic miscellany, character notes, and historical documents. This book will make a wonderful addition to any library, as well as the high school English Language Arts or History curriculum. Bibliography. Melinda A. Adams, Librarian, Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, Bourne, Massachusetts. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 November #2

Wolf (Zane's Trace) constructs a richly textured novel in verse that recreates the Titanic's ill-fated journey, predominantly through the voices of her passengers. The speakers include John Jacob Astor, ("the unsinkable") Margaret Brown, Captain E.J. Smith, and little-known individuals whose stories Wolf draws from research and archival materials. A Lebanese refugee, traveling alone with her brother, finds first love; a tailor, accompanied by his two sons, anguishes over his broken marriage; and a gambler cons his way through the first-class passengers' pocketbooks. A ship rat speaks, as does the iceberg itself--a choice that could have become esoteric ("I am the ice. I have no need of wings./ I only need the hearts Titanic brings")--but earns its place within a composite that includes colloquial speech, introspective interior monologues, and rhyming poetry. Throughout, sequences flash forward to an undertaker's handling of the bodies ("Bodies scattered for miles, in every direction./ Bodies as far as my indifferent eyes can see"), assuring that the ending is never in question. But Wolf's carefully crafted characters evolve as the voyage slides to its icy conclusion; readers may be surprised by the potency of the final impact. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Wolf (Zane's Trace) constructs a richly textured novel in verse that recreates the Titanic's ill-fated journey, predominantly through the voices of her passengers. The speakers include John Jacob Astor, ("the unsinkable") Margaret Brown, Captain E.J. Smith, and little-known individuals whose stories Wolf draws from research and archival materials. A Lebanese refugee, traveling alone with her brother, finds first love; a tailor, accompanied by his two sons, anguishes over his broken marriage; and a gambler cons his way through the first-class passengers' pocketbooks. A ship rat speaks, as does the iceberg itself--a choice that could have become esoteric ("I am the ice. I have no need of wings./ I only need the hearts Titanic brings")--but earns its place within a composite that includes colloquial speech, introspective interior monologues, and rhyming poetry. Throughout, sequences flash forward to an undertaker's handling of the bodies ("Bodies scattered for miles, in every direction./ Bodies as far as my indifferent eyes can see"), assuring that the ending is never in question. But Wolf's carefully crafted characters evolve as the voyage slides to its icy conclusion; readers may be surprised by the potency of the final impact. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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VOYA Reviews 2011 October
On April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. The tragedy of the "unsinkable" ship still fascinates nearly a century after it occurred. Drawing on primary and secondary sources, Wolf has recreated the story of the Titanic in verse form from the viewpoints of two dozen characters--from passengers of all classes and crew to the undertaker from Halifax, the iceberg, and a rat--and covers the time from the design and building of the ship through the aftermath of the sinking. The poems are no longer than two pages, and telegraph messages are interspersed throughout. Some of the most fascinating are those by the businessman who decided that the first-class passengers would rather have an unimpeded view than more lifeboats; Molly Brown, whose grit and determination helped save those in her lifeboat; and the undertaker who deals with the aftermath Included in a notes section at the end are character notes on the people who tell the story, a list of passengers mentioned who were both lost and saved, Morse Code messages used in the narrative, miscellany, and an impressive bibliography including Internet sources and societies. That section alone should guarantee its inclusion in any collection, especially high school (where the resources could be used for research and the verse for English, history, or drama class presentations) and public libraries.--Suanne Roush 3Q 4P S A/YA Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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