Eleven-year-old John Payne has been a student of the Titanic since kindergarten, the Associated Press reports. He has scrupulously researched the ship, built a model out of Lego freehand and successfully lobbied his fifth-grade teacher in suburban Chicago to let him mark the disaster’s centennial with a multimedia presentation for his class. What’s not to like? There’s mystery, high technology and heroes. Sunken treasure, conspiracy theories and jarring tales of rich vs. poor. But there’s also death, lots of it, and that has some parents, teachers and writers of children’s books balancing potentially scary details with more palatable, inspirational fare focused on survivors, animals on board or the mechanics of shipbuilding. John “doesn’t ask questions about the dead and other darker aspects” of what went on that moonless night in the North Atlantic, said his mother, Virginia Tobin Payne…

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staff and wire services reports