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That Fatal Night
That Fatal Night
The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton
By Sarah Ellis
ISBN: 978-0-545-98073-9 Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-443-11921-4 Ebook

176 pages Ages 9-12 5 3/8" x 7 5/8"

It is May 1912, one month after the horrific sinking of the Titanic, and twelve-year-old survivor Dorothy Wilton is sent home from school in disgrace when she strikes another student. Although she's expelled, her sympathetic teacher encourages Dorothy to write an account of her experience on the ship, with the hopes that it will help Dorothy come to terms with her trauma.

And so begins a truly remarkable story, which reads like a time capsule of the era: Dorothy writes about visiting her bohemian grandparents in England before setting sail back home, the luxurious rooms and cabins on board, a new friend she makes, and the intriguing people they observe. However, amidst all of this storytelling, a shadow lurks, a secret Dorothy is too traumatized to acknowledge – a secret about her own actions on that fatal night, which may have had deadly consequences.

Through young Dorothy's eyes, award-winning writer Sarah Ellis expertly takes a unique perspective on the Titanic tragedy, exploring the concept of survivor's guilt with devastating honesty.

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From Dorothy's diary:

June 8, 1912

All right. Miss Caughey's question was: How was your cabin on board the Titanic different from your room at home?

The first thing that was different is that at home everything is a mixture of very old (like my bed, which belonged to Granny Mackenzie), a bit old (like my bedside rug that Mother hooked when she was just a girl), and some new (like my new clothes), but on the ship everything was new. The carpet was new, the beds were new, the walls were new, the sheets were new, the wash basin was new. It smelled new, like paint and polish. It was funny to think that I was the first person to ever sleep in the bed, just as I was the first person in the dining room to eat from the china and the first person on deck to run my hands along a bit of railing. I can't imagine another place you could be where every single part was new, except maybe in the world on the day after Creation, but then Adam and Eve didn't have beds and wash basins to appreciate. Or even clothes until they sewed those fig leaves together to make aprons.

Second thing is that the walls in my room here have wallpaper and the walls in the cabin were shiny white. Wallpaper is more interesting, especially if you are home in bed sick. I have travelled miles in my mind around the ivy on my wallpaper.

The third different thing was the washstand. The basin was in a dark wood cabinet and it folded up toward the wall. When you washed you pulled it down toward you and pressed a button and water came from somewhere behind the mirror. When you were done, the water drained away to a hidden bucket. Of course the stewardess brought hot water in a jug when we needed it, but we could pull down the basin whenever we liked. I liked the gush of water when I filled the basin and the gurgle when it drained out, but Miss Pugh told me I was washing my hands far too often.

The fourth thing is that the bed had a curtain. I had the upper berth and I could pull the curtain across and be in a small room of my own, with my own electric reading light. Mother told me that when I was small I always liked to hide in small spaces, like under the bed, or under the table, or under bushes in the garden.
I would like a bed with a curtain all the time. I like to be able to reach out and touch all the edges of the darkness at night. I don't like it when the darkness stretches out and you can't see where it ends.

June 9

Last night I had the melting dream. It is always the same. At least the melting is always the same. I am in a crowd of people. I reach up and take somebody's hand and it is cold and then I look into the faces and they are all staring and then the faces begin to melt. When I write this down it does not seem so frightening, but when I am in the dream it is so terrifying that all I can do is haul myself out of it and wake up.


From Dear Canada: That Fatal Night, copyright © 2011 by Sarah Ellis.

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Your Reviews

My friends said I’m crazy for reading this book because it is talking about the * old time * but once for the birthday of my friend Marissa, I bought her The Death of My Country and two days later she said that she's in love with the books !!!!! Good job Dear Canada.
Peyton T., Age: 10, Nunavut, Rating: 10

This is the best Dear Canada book in the whole series!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sarah M., Age: 14, Alberta, Rating: 10

I love this book, she is a role model in my life, how she doesn't care about being a part in history, and the play was so magnificent.
Peyton T., Age: 10, Nunavut, Rating: 10

That Fatal Night is awesome! I saw it at the library and I instantly took it out. I love it so much and I almost cried in parts! I totally recommend this book.
Jenny H., Age: 12, British Columbia, Rating: 10

That Fatal Night is amazing! It is by far my favorite book! The sinking of the Titanic is so real! It is a book that you could read again and again and never get tired of it! Girls of every age will enjoy it! It is by far the BEST Dear Canada book yet!
Rachel H., Age: 12, Prince Edward Island, Rating: 10

I love this book so much. I have read it 10 times. I love the Dear Canada books soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much I practically sleep with them.
Menna A., Age: 10, Alberta, Rating: 10

Amazing. This book has a great plot and it's well written. I loved it!
Elaine H., Age: 14, British Columbia Rating: 10

I read it once, one I got it from the book order and it was awesome so I decided to reread it. I love how detailed the book is and how the author sounded a lot like how a 12 year old would in 1912.
Carla R., Ontario, Rating: 10

This book was so awesome! I'd recommend it to anyone. I have known the story of the TITANIC for 4 years and read every account of the tragedy as possible, and I've never come across one so sad and touching. In fact this book was the inspiration for my speech. In the disaster of the TITANIC, every story is about adults and their point of view. This one is that of a young girl. BYE!
Faith M., Age: 11, Ontario, Rating: 8

I loved this book. It is a very heart-warming story. The Titanic has always amazed me. I now feel really grateful, and I want to know more about my ancestors. I can really relate to Dorothy and how she felt. Some of my favourite parts were the Afterword and Author’s Note. I can't wait to read more of the series!
Sadie H., Age: 11, Ontario, Rating: 8