Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, November 25, 2019


42642163Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "The Children's Ship" 
by Deborah Heiligman
Henry Holt and Company, 2019
Grades 5 and up

The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.

On Sept. 12, 1940 the SS City of Benares (the children's ship) set sail from Liverpool, England en route to Canada with 406 people on board. The ship carried nearly ninety children who were fleeing the bombings in England. Deborah Heiligman offers readers a thoroughly researched and detailed account of the excitement and anxiety felt by the young passengers as they left their families behind in England. The excitement quickly turned to panic and horror on Sept. 17th when a German U-boat torpedoed the ship forcing passengers to board life boats in the middle of the cold Atlantic waters.

Heiligman's research included interviews with survivors and extensive library and museum work. This captivating war story is a true nail-biter right up until the end.  Back matter includes a lengthy bibliography, end notes, and an "After the Voyage" section which gives information about what happened to survivors after the story ends. Pair Torpedoed with the historical fiction novel,  Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood. Torpedoed is a highly recommended purchase for middle grade history buffs and for anyone who enjoys survival stories.


  1. Wow- what a story! I'm heading out to get this one. Thanks for the review.

  2. It sounds wonderful! On my to-read list!!