By Author / Illustrator
Welbeck Publishing Group
Paperback / softback
Greenwich, London, 15th February 1894. Luna thinks that an evening at her aunt's butterfly club sounds deathly boring. But it turns out that the meeting, held in the Butterfly Room at the Greenwich Observatory, is not at all as Luna expects. The Butterfly Club is a society with an unusual secret . . . they use time travel to plunder the future for wonders. Together with her friends, Konstantin and Aidan, and a clockwork cuckoo, Luna boards the Time Train. The gang travel to 1912 and find themselves aboard a great ship travelling from Southampton to New York. They locate a man called Guglielmo Marconi and his new invention: the wireless radio. But as the ship heads into icy waters, they discover its name: The RMS TITANIC. Can Luna and the boys save Marconi and his invention from the doomed ship? Can they get the radio back home to the Butterfly Club? And how will their actions change the rest of time?
When Luna is forced to attend a meeting in the Butterfly Room at the Greenwich Observatory, she expects an evening of boredom. But it turns out to be full of surprises. The Butterfly Club is a society with a secret - they travel in time to 'borrow' technology from the future. With two travelling companions, Konstantin and Aidan, Luna boards the time train for her first mission which takes them aboard an unsinkable ship - The Titanic.
The Ship of Doom mingles fantasy with history to create a pacy adventure, making the reader wonder about which event in time they might travel to and what they might find there! Most children have probably heard of the Titanic and know that the children are being sent into a dangerous situation, building tension and posing questions about the 'butterfly effect' of any actions they take whilst on board.
The missing key for the cupboard containing the binoculars and ignored warnings of iceberg sightings are factors which contributed to the Titanic's fate and these events are woven into the story. Historic figures also appear, including Arthur John Priest, a stoker who survived a number of shipwrecks. He plays a significant role in this story, thwarting the children's attempts to change events. Marconi also features in the story with his 'marvellous invention', saving hundreds of passengers. Notes at the end of the book offer more information about significant events and characters, offering an excellent stating point for further investigation.
The children - Luna, Konstantin and Aiden - make an interesting mix with little in common, but ultimately drawn together by the situation in which they find themselves. Once on board, they allow the reader to see how social status was reflected on board ship and how the experience of each class differed.
The Ship of Doom would make a powerful text to use with children, offering plenty of scope for writing in role, research and asking 'what if..?' questions whilst enjoying a very engaging adventure. The Butterfly Club's next adventure is called 'The Mummy’s Curse', promising another exciting historical adventure! I'm looking forward to reading that one.
359 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
The Ship of Doom is the first in a series of thrilling adventure-seeking books from M.A Bennett. This fantastic book introduces us to the members of The Butterfly Club; time-travelling thieves on a mission to bring the future forward. However, small changes in history often have big consequences and this is what becomes known as the 'Butterfly Effect' within the story.
The adventure begins when we are introduced to Luna, the main character. She has been sent to live with her Aunt Grace when her papa disappears and is presumed to be dead. Things are not what they seem and when Luna is to accompany her Aunt to the Royal Observatory one afternoon, little does she know that her life will never be the same again after meeting the people at the Butterfly Club. It is inside the Observatory that Luna meets Konstantin and Aiden and unravels the mystery surrounding her father's disappearance.
Time-travelling is a real thing and, although overwhelmed, Luna agrees to embark on a mission set out by her Aunt to travel to the future. On this time-travelling mission, Luna is to steal a piece of future engineering and bring it back to 1894, where members of the Butterfly club will seek to bring the invention into society quicker, hence bring the future forward. However, their time-travelling mission is not so straight forward and when they land in the year of 1912 to embark upon the world’s unsinkable ship – RMS Titanic - they have no idea of its fate.
The trio find themselves drawn into the social classes on board and each must play their part to steal the new invention and return home safely. Luna is able to rub shoulders with Marconi, Captain Smith and Bruce Ismay whilst Konstantin pretends to be an officer and Aiden is restricted to the depths of the ship's fire holes – shovelling coal.
This book takes use through the historical timeline of the Titanic's maiden voyage, from the atmospheric departure at Southampton until it is swallowed in its final moments by the cold Atlantic Ocean. Readers follow the historical disaster as it unfolds and understand its fatal ending from different perspectives of the social class ladder.
This book would aid the teaching about the Titanic in Key Stage 2 and provide excellent opportunities for cross curricular writing, discussions and debates. I would recommend this book to read as it simply is a pleasure to read and the storyline is a thoroughly gripping adventure.
359 pages / Reviewed by Hayley Summerfield, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+