Blizzard of Glass

Blizzard of Glass:
The Halifax Explosion of 1917

About the Book

Hal­i­fax, the largest city of Nova Sco­tia, Cana­da, has a sto­ry to tell. Four­teen bells in a memo­r­i­al tow­er ring part of the tale. In the city hall clock tow­er, the locked-in-place hands on the clock that faces north freeze a moment of the sto­ry, left as it was on that long ago day. A muse­um con­tain­ing grim reminders and libraries filled with age-old pages share more. The peo­ple of Hal­i­fax add chap­ters to the sto­ry each time they speak the mem­o­ries of those who lived—and died—at the time. Old scars are hid­den by stur­dy stone hous­es, and tall trees line remade streets. But the roots of the sto­ry are still there, and they grow deep.

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 war-torn 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 area and par­a­lyz­ing much-need­ed relief efforts. Fol­low the mem­bers of five fam­i­lies as they expe­ri­ence this ter­ri­ble event and strug­gle to rebuild their lives in the aftermath.

Awards and Recognition

  • ALA Notable Book
  • Indi­ana Young Hoosier Award Mas­ter List 2013–2014
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Kirkus Reviews, Best Children’s Books of 2011
  • Maine Cream of the Crop Mas­ter List 2013
  • Michi­gan Great Lakes Great Books Award 2013–2014
  • Par­ents’ Choice Recommended
  • Rebec­ca Caudill Award Nom­i­nee 2014
  • VOYA Non­fic­tion Hon­or List 2011
  • YALSA Excel­lence in Non­fic­tion for Young Adults Award nom­i­nee 2013


 “Riv­et­ing.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred)

“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.” (Horn Book Mag­a­zine)

“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)

“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)

Blizzard of Glass

writ­ten by Sal­ly M. Walk­er
Hen­ry Holt & Co., Nov 2011
hard­cov­er: 978–0805089455
160 pages, ages 11 and up

Square Fish, Feb 2014
paper­back: 978–1250040084

Buy the Book 

Blizzard of Glass