The Bravest Man in the World

Ages: 4 - 8Publisher: Simon & Schuster Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco


Named for his grandfather, young Jonathan Harker Weeks fusses about practicing the piano; he’d rather be playing outside. His musically talented grandfather, who wants him to understand the joys of music, tells him a poignant story.

When Grandfather was an eight-year-old orphaned street musician in Queenstown, Ireland, men stole his coins and broke his fiddle. He managed to escape and hide in a building where he burrowed into a big canvas bag of letters and fell asleep. When Jonathan awakens, he is far out to sea, an inadvertent stowaway on the Titanic. Slipping into a room through an open door, he discovers a beautiful violin that he can’t resist playing. He, in turn, is discovered – and protected – by the violin’s owner, Wallace Hartley.  A motherly woman on the ship’s staff, Mrs. Weeks, also helps Jonathan and ultimately saves him by pulling him away from Wallace Hartley and into a lifeboat. Hartley, we learn, is the man who famously stood and played “Nearer, My God, to Thee” to calm his doomed fellow passengers.

With dramatic, fine-line drawings flowing across double-page spreads, Polacco’s emotional portraiture remains the most powerful aspect of her illustrations. With varying perspectives, her gripping story pays tribute to a real man’s actions in the face of tragedy. Beautifully illustrated, this account of the catastrophic sinking of the Titanic will capture the imaginations of all her readers.


Kemie Nix ©2019 Parents’ Choice

Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children’s Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents’ Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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