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Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917
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Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,683 ratings  ·  283 reviews
On December 6, 1917 two ships collided in Halifax Harbour. One ship was loaded top to bottom with munitions and one held relief supplies, both intended for wartorn Europe. The resulting blast flattened two towns, Halifax and Dartmouth, and killed nearly 2,000 people. As if that wasn't devastating enough, a blizzard hit the next day, dumping more than a foot of snow on the ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published 2011)
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,683 ratings  ·  283 reviews

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Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the story of an explosion of a munitions ship on December 6, 1917 in Halifax Harbor, what lead up to it, the massive force of the explosion, families involved and what happened afterwards. Two thousand deaths (five hundred being children), nine thousand injuries and the blizzard that happened the day after and the extraordinary relief effort make this a fascinating read. It was the largest man-made explosion before the atomic bomb. On the last page is a picture of an anchor shaft from th ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Growing up in Chicago, I constantly heard and read about the Great Chicago Fire. However, I had never once heard about the Halifax Explosion of 1917. I wonder if that is simply a regional thing. The Halifax explosion is a very interesting story and I am surprised that it is not more well known (and I now wonder the same about the Chicago Fire elsewhere).

Walker, however, took a nonfiction write by numbers approach to the book. She certainly presented some interesting details about the explosion,
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Coles notes version of the Halifax explosion. Far from enough to grip and compel.
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book! It's the kind of non-fiction I like best, with a combination of facts and personal narrative, all told with a sweeping movement and intensity. The introductory chapters, where we hear about who went to work and who went to school and who stayed home sick and who only went to school in the afternoon, were unbearable as I waited to find out which of these places was safe and which wasn't. As is right and proper in juvenile non-fiction, much of the book focuses on children's experiences ...more
On Dec 6, 1917, there was an explosion in the Halifax Harbour. Around 2000 people were killed and many more injured.

This book is aimed toward younger readers, but I found it a good introduction. There are also plenty of archival photos included. The author decided to tell the stories of a few specific families – to follow what happened to the people in those families, what they were doing at the time, etc. I do think this makes the book more “relatable”.

I did know of the explosion, but this is
Loree Burns
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I picked up an Advance Reader’s Edition of this book at the annual conference of the American Library Association last month. Technically, I am too biased to review it: Sally Walker is a friend and Henry Holt is publishing my own next book. But I’m not the sort of girl that would let those things sway her into praising a book she didn’t love ... and I love this book too much not to sing about it.

In 1917, a ship carrying munitions into Halifax Harbor collided with another ship, setting off what w
There was an explosion in 1917 that killed about 2,000 people in Halifax, Canada. Did you know about that? I sure didn't. But wow, what a story. There were two boats that crashed. But even worse is that one of the boats was totally loaded with TNT and other such things to help with the war in Europe. The result was the biggest explosion until the atomic bomb.

The interesting thing about how Sally Walker tells the story is that she doesn't just tell facts about what happened. She tells the story
Jan C
I seem to be having a problem with books I am listening to on Overdrive. This is at least the second or third youth oriented book I have read. It is a well written one, but, still a children's book.

I am very glad that this was not the first book I have read about the disaster that occurred in December 1917 in Halifax Harbor. Curse Of The Narrows by Laura M. MacDonald is ever so much better. This book, however, tones down the disaster that occurred whereas Curse brings home just how much of a di
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I knew nothing of the Halifax Explosion that was the largest man-made explosion until the atomic bombs dropped. The subject matter was fascinating but I think Walker could have done a better job in crafting the story. The photographs were great including illustrations but the addition of all of the different families (their jobs, their home life, who was sick, who was walking to school) left it too mundane to really want to muddle through. I wanted THE STORY. I wanted the thoughts, actions, what ...more
Title:Blizzard of glass
Author:Sally M. Walker
Publication Date:November 22,2011


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Blizzard of Glass by Sally M. Walker is a nonfiction story that is a very gory book but it was worth the time.If you're into nonfiction I recommend it. Also if you're in 8th grade this book would be appropriate for you to read. I learned about a huge explosion that killed thousands
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth-nonfiction
This was the biggest man-made explosion to happen before the advent of the atomic bomb. Two ships collided in the harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia, starting a chain of events that resulted in one of them blowing up. Hundreds of people were killed instantly, and several thousand were injured. The sheer force of this event was pretty impressive. The relief efforts were heroic. I had never heard of this event before reading this book, and this is a well-told story, focusing on the families who were s ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: collection
This is a story I actually hadn't heard about before discovering this book, how is that possible? I liked the simple style of this book, where the author also adds an explanation to some of the terms used, some more useful than others. It was short enough to not feel dragged out, while still building up the story and also going into the aftermath and summarizing nicely. The audio book is 2 hours and 51 minutes, easily digested in an afternoon.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amber Spencer
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
A shorter version of a story I just learned about in the last year. Devastating and tragic, but with some hope and love intermingled.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I had heard of this explosion but never knew the facts until I read this book. On December 6, 1917, a munitions ship loaded with explosives collided with another ship in Halifax harbor, setting off a fire and explosion that destroyed much of the town and killed thousands of people. In addition to the many injured, over 40 people completely lost their vision because they were standing in front of windows that shattered when the explosion occurred. It was followed by a blizzard that hampered rescu ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
I applaud Sally M. Walker's brevity. In the hands of another modern historian, the reader would likely slog through every political intrigue, alliance, battle, pandemic, economic justification, and every minute detail of World War I to explain this singular event. Nowadays, a reader travails through two to three hundred pages before the actual event indicated in the title actually occurs. I suspect that a lot of this has to do with getting the page count up which in turn translates to more chedd ...more
Marjorie Ingall
Awesome, freaky and terrifying -- and how had I never heard of the Halifax Explosion, the biggest man-made explosion before Hiroshima? These Canadians are really too quiet and unassuming.

The book is super-suspenseful as the author ticks off what each member of several families living near the harbor was doing on the morning that two ships -- one laden with munitions -- converged. The tick-tick-tick tone of it all is sickeningly scary, super-cinematic, kind of puke-inducing. You have no idea as
Annalee Schnebele
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Umh, I think I might be crazy because all I've heard about this book is how amazing it is and how no one can put it down. I read it hoping to find some nonfiction books for our 7th and 8th grade teachers for next year.

It was a really interesting topic. And some of the information in it was fascinating. I definetly want to know more about this moment in history. But, the author's voice was irritating and condescending. It's very difficult to write ya nonfiction well, and I don't think this is a g
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.2 stars

I had never heard of this disaster that happened in Dec. 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This is a short children's nonfiction book, and I saw the title on an ALA's Best of.... booklist.

A ship filled with munitions for World War I ran into another ship in Halifax Harbor. The resulting explosion was the largest manmade explosion that had ever occurred. It remained the largest manmade explosion until 1945 when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

The book was made very personal by the aut
Addison Children's Services
I was disappointed. I didn't feel as engaged in the people as I would have liked. I don't know if it was because we were introduced to too many families for me to keep them straight or because not enough time was spent developing a relationship with them before the tragedy. It is a very interesting story and certainly one I had not heard about. I guess here in the US we don't care much about bad things way over in Canada. The Halifax explosion was the largest man-made explosion prior to the atom ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Middle grade history, which means that it's accessibly written and full of personal narratives, possibly more so than an adult book on the same subject might be. And more pictures, too. The subject itself is fascinating enough on its own, and Walker builds up suspense by taking her time in setting the scene. She also doesn't skip out shortly after the explosion happened, instead following up on the relief efforts afterwards.

Of course, you could always read the Wikipedia article on the explosion,
Mar 20, 2014 added it
December 6,1917 on that date can mean anything to anyone. Someone's birthday,wedding,or anything else. But on that date. There was a explosion.....that caused the next few days of the people in Nova Scotica to be miserable.this story is historical fiction.

The explosion starts off with the ships.and one of them was carrying explosives for the war. And it crashes into another ship then black oil and a tsunami occurs. Then the next day there was a blizzard.
Edward Sullivan
A fascinating chronicle of the catastrophe and its human toll.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A tale of heroism, courage, and love.

Blizzard Of Glass is a decently short, nonfiction book written by Sally M. Walker. It is the story of one major event in history so it is not part of a series. The book is honestly geared toward children of all ages, but it is the themes I would say that make it a better read for tweens and teens.
The book revolves around five young, joyous families, and how their everyday lives screech to a halt on that one faithful day. The Imo, a U.S. ship was leaving Ha
Penny Douglas
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I became interested in learning more about the Halifax explosion due to its 100th anniversary being acknowledged during discussion of Halifax's annual gift to Massachusetts of the Christmas tree that towers over Boston Common. When I added this book to my wish list, I didn't realise it was written for middle school readers, but that was serendipitous--a quick read, very informative, with true stories of families of Halifax and Dartmouth that lent a personal narrative to the factual reporting of ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Imagine you’re about to take a business trip, and you’re frantically searching for an audiobook or two. A few minutes of shelf reading later and Blizzard of Glass about the Halifax Explosion of 1917 is checked out and loaded in Libby. Not too far in though, I discover this book appears marketed to a Young Adult audience and likely as a school reading supplement. An awkward moment later, I’m back to enjoying the quick, dramatic telling of this tragic accident. Two ships meet at dawn in Halifax ha ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: j-nonfiction
I'll admit, when I want basic information about an event or purpose but don't want to read a 400 page treatise, I'll pick up a children's book about it. This book worked in that regard, informing me and providing visuals of all the details. Clearly the author did her research. Adding the personal stories of people that lived and worked in the area, including many children was a nice personal touch although there were so many I had to keep referring back to the initial descriptions. This was such ...more
Jay Warner
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada, history
This is the second book I have read on the Halifax Explosion. This book is well written and focuses mainly on the families affected by the event. The author conducted many interviews with descendants of the survivors and also spent many hours researching in the Maritime Museum. The narrative is compelling and informative. There are many, many pictures which add to the interest and are horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Canadian history, mar ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it liked it
The title and cover illustration drew me to this brief account of the Halifax Harbor disaster in December, 1917. The research is impeccable and the words paint a comprehensive picture of the environs and events of that horrible morning though leaving much unsaid about the nature of community life before the explosion. The writing is aimed at a junior high audience as it frequently explains vocabulary that may be new to the reader. The emphasis is less on the grizzly results of the explosion than ...more
The other John
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one's a short book about a munition ship explosion that took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 6, 1917. At the time, it was the largest man-made explosion in history, flattening a good portion of the city and killing hundreds of people. Ms. Walker tells the story, in part, by recounting the experiences of a few families who were living in the area. That personal touch brings the sorrow of the tragedy and the following recovery efforts that much closer. It's definitely worth checking ...more
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Sally M. Walker has written science books for children, including Earthquakes, an NSTA/CBC Best Science Trade Book of 1997. She lives in DeKalb, IL.