In Beatrice Gormley’s Back to the Titanic (Travelers through Time, No. 1), 1994, 132 pages, three kids borrow their great-grandfather’s time machine and zoom back to the Titanic to try to prevent it from sinking. They have no plan. They display about as much focus as my seven-year-old when I ask him to clean his room. To be fair, from the start you know their goal will not succeed, because in just 132 pages how could the author possibly explain the whole alternate reality that would ensue if they succeeded? Still, I was irritated Emily took a nap in the middle of the mission. Girl, you do not deserve the use of a time travel device.
Matt and Emily’s great-grandfather is an inventor, and he’s just created the greatest invention of all – a way to travel through time. He plans to return to the Titanic, which he sailed on as a boy, and try to save it. But when he breaks his ankle it looks as if his plans have been ruined.
Until Matt, Emily, and Matt’s best friend, Jonathan, find the invention. Jonathan, a real science whiz, figures out how to make it work. In a snap, the three kids travel back nearly one hundred years. They are on the Titanic!
Can they save the great ship before it hits the iceberg and sinks to the bottom of the ocean? And more important, will they be able to get back to the present time?
The cover illustration in which the trio gaze in different directions gives a hint re how little teamwork they display. Matt, Emily, and Jonathan spread out on the ship and try to convince people to pay more attention to the icebergs the ship will encounter. No one takes their concerns seriously. This did drive home the point of just how unsinkable the passengers regarded the Titanic. There were some mildly interesting descriptions of the dining room, coal room, and communication (via Morse code) room. Of course the ship goes down. Surprisingly, it’s not that scary. Perhaps the author did not want to make the plot too terrifying to young readers? A huge Titanic fan (a titanic Titanic fan? :))might enjoy the book. Also, if a kid read another book in the series such as Back to Paul Revere ( my review here) and was fond of the characters, the book might have appeal. But for most middle grade readers I would recommend other Titanic time travel stories such as Ghosts of the Titanic (my review), or The Comic Book Kid (my review) over this one.
For more info about the Titanic geared toward kids, you may also like 10 Cool Things About the Titanic, Titanic Facts for Kids. I plan to compile a list of Titanic time travel books in a future post, so check back or subscribe if interested!