(Image from Barnes & Noble)
If you have elementary school-aged kids, you're probably familiar with the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis. The author has written about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the sinking of the Titanic, the Hindenburg disaster, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and many other true events in fictionalized, eye witness accounts. These short, action-packed volumes teach kids about significant historical moments while entertaining them with a tense, exciting story. After helping with the reading program at my kids' elementary school for years, I can tell you with absolute authority—these are very popular books.
I've read several of the books in the sereis, but it wasn't until Tarshis published the newest installment that I could finally say, "Hey, I survived that, too!" Technically, of course, I survived the attacks on September 11, 2001, as well as the Japanese tsunami and the Joplin tornado (both of 2011), but I wasn't anywhere near where those disasters occurred when they did. The eruption of Mout St. Helens, though, is a different story. On May 18, 1980, I was living in a small town in Washington State that sits only about 168 miles from the volcano. Although I was only four, I remember seeing ash on the roads after the eruption. Not much of a survival story, I know, but the fact that I had even a smidgen of experience with the event made I Survived: The Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 1980 more real to me. I also related a lot to the book's main character because, like her, I grew up in the shadow of a quiet, majestic mountain. Gazing at Mount Hood still brings me feelings of serenity, contentment, and awe. Lurking under its facade, however, is a volcano that scientists say could blow at any time. As is demonstrated in Tarshis' latest (and many of her other books), growing complacent in the face of nature's vast, destructive power can be very dangerous indeed.
I Survived: The Eruption of Mount St. Helens tells the volcano's story through the eyes of 11-year-old Jessie Marlowe, who happens to be Tarshis' first female protagonist. Naturally, she's on the scene when St. Helens blows and has to fight her way out. Her survival story is full of danger and daring, which will appeal to readers of both genders. Those who enjoy learning about volcanoes will also like this tale, which contains plenty of facts that are explained succinctly enough to be interesting without bogging down the book's fast-paced plot. This novel, along with the others in the series, are perfect reads for reluctant readers as well as non-fiction lovers who yearn for "real" stories. Kids love these books and, you know what? I do, too.
(Readalikes: Other books in the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis; also the Who/What Was _______? series by various authors; and the Dear America series by various authors)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for scary situations and scenes of peril
To the FTC, with love: Another library