Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book review: Dear Canada: That Fatal Night by Sarah Ellis

Dear Canada: That Fatal Night by Sarah Ellis (Published by Scholastic Canada, September 1, 2011)

It's May 1912, and twelve-year-old Dorothy Wilton has returned to her home in Halifax after surviving the sinking of the Titanic. She just wants to go back to her normal routine and not talk about what happened, but finds herself expelled from school after hitting another girl who said horrible things about the victims of the disaster. Dorothy's favorite teacher suggests that during her time away from school, she should write a diary about what happened to her, to help her come to terms with her experience.

Dorothy begins the story by writing about her trip to England to meet her grandparents. Her grandparents were very kind and their housekeeper had twelve-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, that Dorothy became close friends with during her stay in England. For her journey home, her father got her a ticket on the grandest ship ever built, the Titanic. Dorothy had fun exploring the ship and made a new friend, but hated her traveling companion, Miss Pugh, who worked for Dorothy's father and had agreed to travel with her since she too was visiting a relative in England. Miss Pugh did not survive the disaster, and Dorothy blames herself for her death.

That Fatal Night is different from most novels for young readers about the Titanic, since it is set after the sinking and is mainly about a survivor struggling to accept what happened. This book is shorter than most other books in the Dear Canada series, and I think it could have been a bit longer with some more description of Dorothy's time on the Titanic. However, I still really enjoyed it, I love almost anything I read about the Titanic and I really liked that this book offered a unique perspective by being set afterwards. I recommend this book to readers interested in the Titanic or who enjoyed other books from the Dear Canada series.


Anonymous said...

Great review, Rebecca! I was wondering, would you mind sharing where you purchase your newer Dear Canada books? I can't seem to find any shops based in the USA that have any except the older (and fairly expensive!) books in the series.

Rebecca Herman said...

Since you didn't leave your name and email, I will reply here in hopes you check back - the Dear Canada books can be bought from and as well as some smaller independent Canadian online bookstores like and

Kelly Gardiner said...

Sounds fascinating. Books about the Titanic story are strangely compelling, aren't they, although you often read of the same incidents (understandably, since the events of that night are so remarkable). So this is a great idea - looking at the aftermath of the trauma, rather than the night itself. You can imagine how the trauma must have stayed with survivors for decades.
Thanks for posting.

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