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Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 Hardcover – November 22, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The well-designed volume clearly depicts the extent of the devastation in both words and photographs . . . . As usual, this author's source notes and use of primary sources serves as a model of nonfiction writing.” ―Shelf Awareness

“* Riveting.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Disasters make for gripping reading, and this account of the huge explosion of a munitions ship and its devastating effects in Halifax Harbor, Canada, in 1917 tells the dramatic history with clear detailed facts.” ―Booklist

“Halifax does indeed have a story to tell, but Walker once again proves that it's her consummate gifts as a storyteller that breathe life into the tale.” ―The Horn Book

“This tragic, but well-told story belongs in most collections.” ―School Library Journal

About the Author

Sally Walker is the author of Written in Bone, Fossil Fish Found Alive, and Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, which was awarded a Sibert Medal. She lives in Illinois.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 1100L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805089454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805089455
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,012,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Blizzard of Glass is about the Halifax explosion in 1917. It tells about the lives of multiple families living in Halifax on the day this occurred. It went through what each member of the family was doing that day. Then, it told about the explosion, explaining what happened and why it happened. It then went on to tell what happened to many people, especially the families described at the beginning. The end went on to describe the many days after; the financial help of others, the bravery of those looking for survivors, the doctors and nurses trying to help those that had been severely injured. It talked about people looking for family members. It even went on to describe what happened to many of the people many years down the road.

I had honestly never heard of this disaster. I came across it when reviewing Titanic books, and it looked interesting. The undertaker who helped record personal information and try to identify bodies from the Titanic site also had the same job in Halifax, where he lived, so I found that Titanic tie in very interesting. I liked the way the book was written. It had me invested in the lives of all of the people living there. I tore through the book very quickly, in less than 2 hours. Yes, I know it isn't geared toward a grown woman like myself, but I would recommend it to many adults. Children probably 4th grade and up who enjoy a good nonfiction story would like this one. Also, it is a great book to give to someone interested in the Titanic that is looking for something different to read. It is filled with pictures that bring the story even more to life. Like I said, I had never heard of the Halifax explosion before picking up this book, so I have nothing else to compare it to, but it seems very factual. Overall, great book!
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Format: Hardcover
"Blizzard of Glass" details an explosion that takes place in the harbor of Halifax, Canada in 1917. This book chronicles the events surrounding a collision between two ships that lead to the largest explosive blast to happen before the atomic bomb. Even 50 miles away, the rumblings of this explosion could still be felt. The aftermath of this horrendous catastrophe was chaotic. All the glass in Halifax was blown out from every building and home, and the streets were blanketed in broken and sharp shards.

Anyone who loves history and tales of courage during a disaster, will find this fascinating book hard to put down. The author's energy captures your attention straight through the climax, and then the closing chapters' details leave you with an understanding of how the people of Halifax rebuilt their beloved city.

Any mature reader, ages 10 to adult, would enjoy this intense and informative narrative.

Review by Young Mensan Owen D., age 11
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Format: Hardcover
I had never heard about The Halifax Explosion before I found this book. I needed to read some nonfiction for a children's lit class and discovered this gem. Sally Walker is known for putting together good books for younger readers that are not only full of facts but are also entertaining. Blizzard of Glass falls into that category. I had a hard time putting it down.

On December 6, 1917 two ships ran into each other in Halifax Harbour. One of them was carrying explosives. After in ran aground, several brave souls attempted to squelch the fire but failed. The result is the worst explosion pre-atomic bomb. The book does a great job of staying neutral on who was to blame and also explains and illustrates how the explosion came to happen in a logical way that kids can understand. The diagrams certainly help, along with all the pictures that set the time and place for those of us who are much too young to have a clue what 1917 might look like.

I like that the book moved sequentially. Walker keeps some level of suspense throughout as the race for survival and finding one's lost loved ones is on. The first third of the book talks most about the explosion and the final two thirds is about picking up the pieces. I was a bit confused as to who was related to who since so many names are thrown at you in the first part of the book and had to keep looking back to the family trees at the front by the end. Despite that, telling the story through the children who survived makes the book more relatable for the intended audience. The author even provides a good deal of source notes, which is a tip-off that she did her work and didn't just crib from other sources, a sign of a good nonfiction book.

Well done book on an event that many people probably do not even realize happened.
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Format: Hardcover
The early 1900's were indeed tragic times on Canada's east coast.With the sinking of the Titanic on April 12th,1912,with the loss of 1,514;the sinking of the Empress of Ireland on May 29,1914,with the loss of 1,012;the worst was still to come on December 6,1917,with the Halifax Explosion and the loss of nearly 2000 people.
This book by Sally Walker,gives a brief summary of the explosion,but deals more with the experiences of 5 families who were affected with the terrible disaster and how it forever affected their lives.
This book is more suited to younger readers or even adult readers who have never heard about this terrible disaster.The author met with the surviving members of these families and through these meetings brings out the personal sides of their stories.These interviews were conducted recently,as opposed to the time this event occurred,nearly 100 years ago.
I rated this book 5*'s because it is a good brief summary of the event;not because it deals with all the information ,details of what happened nor details of the damage and suffering or even the inquiries that took place to place blame,For that,there are other books such as "The Town That Died",by Michael J. Bird or "The Curse of the Narrows",by Laura M.MacDonald that give much more details and which I reviewed on December 5,2009.
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