Lauren Tarshis has created an exciting survival series grounded in historical disasters with the I Survived books. Fictional characters provide an emotional connection with each story. The historical events that provide the setting offer danger and lots of fast-paced action. I enjoyed the author’s note in the back of each that separate fact from fiction and offer additional information. I can see readers who want a quick, short read with lots of adventure grabbing these off my shelves. Here are the four titles I picked up from the Scholastic Book Fair last spring.
I Survived The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 (Scholastic 2012):
Leo is unafraid to make his own way in the up and coming city of San Francisco. He has an exciting job as a newsboy and his grandfather’s lucky gold nugget in his pocket. His luck changes when two neighborhood bullies steal his gold nugget. Then the ground begins to shake a twist, knocking buildings to the ground around him. As he struggles to survive the earthquake and the devastating fires that follow, he finds his relationships with the local boys shifting, too.
I Survived The Shark Attacks of 1916 (Scholastic 2010):
Chet is trying to fit in with the local boys now that he has finally settled down in Elm Hills, New Jersey, to live with his uncle Jerry. He’s trying to get the hang of pranking with the guys when one goes a little too far. All that is forgotten when news of shark attacks along the nearby Jersey shore makes its way to town. Even more frightening is when he comes face to face with the bloodthirsty jaws of a shark that has somehow made its way up the creek. This one seems especially appropriate with all the news of shark sightings off the coast of New England this summer. Unlike the people of 1916, those of us who grew up post Jaws, don’t doubt that sharks can and will attack humans.
I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 (Scholastic, 2011)
Danny’s mom moved the two of them to Hawaii from the streets of New York City to help Danny get a fresh start away from crime and gangs. Danny would do anything–including stowing away on a ship–to get back. His plans are changed when Japanese planes stream over Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack on the USA. As he struggles to find his mother and help his new-found friends, he learns just what kind of boy he is. I think my favorite character is the young scamp Aki who befriends Danny with his antics.
I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 (Scholastic 2011):
Not all disasters are in the distant past. Barry’s family tried to evacuate New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit, but a traffic jam is no place to be when his little sister gets violently sick. So they turn back to wait out the storm in their house in the Lower Ninth Ward. They survive the first wave of the storm, but when the levees break, the water starts rising fast. The family makes it to the roof of their house where Barry is swept off into the raging water. How will he survive when so many others did not? Will he ever find his family again?