Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 - Sally M. Walker

Title: Blizzard of Glass: the Halifax Explosion of 1917
Author: Sally M. Walker
Pages: 160
Published: 2011
Genre: Children's Literature, Canadian History
Challenges: None
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: December 6, 1917, started like any other day in Halifax.  Women made breakfast, men went to work, children got ready for school.  But everything stopped shortly before nine o'clock that morning, when two ships collided in Halifax Harbour.  One of the ships was loaded with munitions for the troops fighting in Europe; the other was preparing to collet medical supplies for the war's victims.

The resulting disaster was the largest man-made explosion until the detonation of the atomic bomb in 1945.  The blast flattened large areas of Halifax and the town across the harbor, Dartmouth.  It killed nearly two thousand people. As if that wasn't devastating enough, a blizzard hit the next day on the area and slowing much-needed relief efforts.

This harrowing story of tragedy and recovery reveals the extraordinary strength and determination of a community in one of its darkest hours. (via inside flap of book)

Thoughts:  For the past 20 years, I have had an interest in the Halifax Explosion after visiting an exhibit there at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (I think I also saw some artifacts from the Titanic on display) and immediately gained an interest on the topic and when Heritage Canada put out a series of minutes that included the Halifax Explosion, my interest was piqued and everytime I see something in regards to the Halifax explosion.  While the contribution that was made by American doctors and nurses is the most notable, these contributions were also significant:

• the state of Maine sent 5 train cars filled with supplies and 10,000 wool blankets
• the Massachusetts Automobile Club sent ten trucks
• schoolchildren in St. John, N.B. donated 10,000 pieces of children's clothing
• a Red Cross train from New York carried mattresses, blankets, food, and clothes
• one shipment of clothing from the United States contained a small surprise in the pocket of every outfit
• the USS Old Colony was prepared as a temporary hospital in Halifax Harbour

I liked that it focused on five different families that lived in the area and who were all affected by the explosion.  And its nice to note that every year since 1971 Boston lights a Christmas tree in Boston Common that is a gift of thanks from Nova Scotia to the people of Massachusetts.

Bottom line:  This is a good introductory book to the Halifax Explosion for anybody who wishes to learn more about this particular event.  Recommended for those kids who are in grades 5-8 and have an interest in learning more about Canadian history or for those that want to be introduced to the topic.


Rating:  4/5

Pages for 2013: 160

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