Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Exploring the Titanic

Exploring the Titanic

Robert D. Ballard
Illustrator:  Ken Marschall 
For ages 8 to 12
Scholastic, 1993   ISBN: 978-0590419529

There are times when we get interested in a project and it just won’t let us go. This is how it was for Robert Ballard, a marine scientist who became fascinated with the story of the SS Titanic. Ballard worked with special underwater equipment including submarines and ROV’s. It was when he was working with Alvin, a three man submarine, that he realized that Alvin would be able to reach the remains of the great ship which was thought to lie 12,000 feet below the ocean waves.

It took many years of fundraising, persuading, and research before Ballard was ready to go looking for the Titanic but in the summer of 1985 he succeeded in getting everything together. That August Ballard was in the Atlantic looking for the wreck using historical information about the sinking of the Titanic, a sonar device, and an underwater video recording unit named Argo.

At last, only a few days before they had to head for home, Ballard and his team saw the images of man-made objects on their viewing screens. They had found what Ballard had been looking for - the debris field of the Titanic. Following the path of the debris Argo soon began to send them images of the hull of the ship and Ballard saw that the ship had broken in two as it sank.

In 1986 Ballard went back to the resting place of the Titanic and this time he went down to the ocean floor in Alvin. On his first dive Ballard and two of his colleagues had to deal with all sorts of mechanical malfunctions and it was pure luck that they found the Titanic at all but find it they did and had a mere glance of the hull of the ship before they had to surface and repair their "sick puppy" of a submarine. Thankfully, the very next day, Ballard in Alvin was able to visit the wreck for a longer period of time and the cameras that he took with him took some incredible photographs of the outside of the ship. Over the next few days Ballard also got pictures of the interior of the ship but sending JJ the ROV into the wreckage.

Ballard not only describes his own experiences in this book but he also tells the story of the Titanic with great pathos and understanding. Ballard helps us see how the ship was truly a victim of ill luck, overconfidence, and a lack of planning.

Full of photographs, illustrations, maps and diagrams, this fascinating book not only tells an incredible story but it is a fitting tribute to all those who perished when the SS Titanic sank on April 15th, 1906.