Thursday, March 6, 2014

A True Story! Pig on the Titanic by Gary Crew (Pictures by Bruce Whatley)

Published in 2005 by Harper Collins Publishers

Gary Crew's A True Story! Pig on the Titanic is based on a true story; the author's note places the book in its historical context:
At 11:40 P.M. on the night of April 14, 1912, the American-owned White Star Liner Titanic hit an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. The Titanic sank two hours and forty minutes later. Of the 2,228 people aboard, 1,523 lost their lives in the frozen sea: 158 of these were women and children. The sinking of the Titanic is one of the worst maritime disasters of all time.
While there are always tales of great individual courage in any disaster, the sinking of the Titanic seems to have more than its fair share. There are accounts of passengers giving up their places in lifeboats so that others could live, of women refusing to leave their husbands when the ship went down, but perhaps one of the most memorable acts of human compassion was performed by Edith Rosenbaum--and her wonderful music box pig, Maxixe. . . .
While preparing for my picturebook presentation, I came across this book and just had to read it and blog about it! It is a true story about a little music box pig named Maxixe that saved one woman's life; her name is Edith Rosenbaum. When the Titanic hit an iceberg that fateful night, at first Edith refused to get into a lifeboat, but when Maxixe was thrown into one of the boats by a sailor, she had to go after it, for the little music box had been given to her by her mother. Although the pig was damaged when it fell into the boat, Edith managed to wind up its tail and play music so it would calm and entertain the children until they were rescued. Edith survived that dreadful night, went on to become a famous fashion designer, and lived a long happy life, and Maxixe went on to become a hero. Edith Rosenbaum died on April 4, 1975, almost 63 years to the day of the sinking of the Titanic.

This book would be excellent to share with young children because it is true and uplifting. Many of them could relate to how important the little pig was to Edith because many of them most likely have small animals at home that they treasure. The illustrations for A True Story! Pig on the Titanic were created by Bruce Whatley, and although they look rather dated, they probably are representative of the pictures that might have been drawn in the early 20th century. They show Edith Rosenbaum boarding the Titanic with Maxixe, several scenes when she was on board the ship with the pig in her arms, and the various levels of the ship where Edith took her music box. The picture of the Titanic before it strikes the iceberg is darkly reminiscent of other illustrations depicting what the ship might have looked like before it sank on that cold, dark night. It is a dark, bluish black color, and the lights from the ship can be seen under a night sky filled with stars. The image even looks cold.

The story continues as chaos breaks out on board the ship. When Maxixe is thrown into a lifeboat, this "accident" saves Edith's life. When Edith realizes how frightened the children are, she winds up Maxixe's tail, and the music plays, calming the children's fears until they are rescued. All night long, the children pass the pig from one to another, wind up Maxixe's tail, and play the music. I encourage you to read this delightful story; I highly recommend this book for young children.

The photographs below are not in Crew's book but could be shown to students after reading the book so they will understand that this book is, in fact, based on a true story. I have provided a link below for easy access.

Edith Rosenbaum and Maxixe
A lifeboat full of Titanic survivors

Maxixe on display in New York

Music Box Internal Workings

The History Blog: Maxixe's Song Plays Again!

Source for Book Cover and Photographs

Listen to the Actual Recording of the Pig on the Titanic

Meet Miss Edith Louis Rosenbaum (Edith Russell)

Find this book in your local library.

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