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Review: I Survived. The Graphic Novel

I Survived Book Cover

I have a confession to make: I have not read any of the I Survived series. In fact, for a very long time, I resisted buying them for my library, because I thought they were a little young for middle school. But I caved due to the number of students asking if we had the series. If they asked for it, I thought it would be a good idea to have it. Today, there are many joyous faces when the students find a copy on the library shelves. So when I heard there was a graphic novel adaptation and then got my very own preview, I was thrilled to get a taste of the book.

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
Lauren Tarshis, Gervasio and Jok
February 2020, 160 p. $10.99 pbk
Ages 7-12

George Calder is given the chance of a lifetime to ride the Titanic. It’s 1912 and he is a passenger on its maiden voyage. George is on the boat with his sister and aunt, and George is constantly getting into trouble. His exploring takes him to third class, where he meets an Italian father and son. He meets a scar-faced man while trying to sneak a peek at an Egyptian mummy supposedly making the voyage along with him.

When the ship hits an iceberg, George’s sister Phoebe is missing and he and his aunt must find her before it’s too late. They land in third class, where George’s Italian friends help them, and together the five of them escape up to the deck.

In addition to the narrow escape from the sinking ship, there are a lot of other tension-filled-moments in the story, such as when George meets with the scar-faced man. There is also a bit of back-story, making George a well rounded character for the reader to connect with.

The color artwork is lively and exciting, adapting to the mood of the moment. The artist really does a great job using facial expressions to show the mood and how characters are feeling. George is a well drawn character who is easy for the reader to empathize with.

Like I said, I didn’t read the original novels, but my son, now in fifth grade, did. So I gave him my advance reading copy, and here are his thoughts:

According to him, the adaptation is very close to the original novel. The changes are very minute and don’t really have a big effect on the story. In his opinion, he liked the novel better, because there were more details in the book. Even though he loves comics and reads many, in this instance, he preferred the images he drew in his own mind than the ones the artists drew here! That said, he would recommend this book to a friend, but he suggests that they read the novel first.

The book has been making its rounds in my house. My third grader is easily scared, so this had bits and pieces that frightened her a bit too much. But my second grader read this over and over again. I kept putting the book to the side to write the review and she kept grabbing it from my pile to read again.

Despite my son’s preference for the (prose) novel, I would highly recommend adding this to your pre-order shopping cart. It will be a surefire hit with elementary age students (and even some middle school ones)!

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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