FICTION

The Disaster Days

Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. Oct. 2019. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492673316.
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Gr 4-7–Pelling, a small, isolated, fictional island near Seattle, is a utopia. At least, that’s what Hannah Steele thinks. Life for Hannah is safe and simple, so much so she hardly worries when she forgets her emergency inhaler for her asthma while babysitting her neighbor’s children, Zoe and Oscar. Hannah feels prepared because she’s 13, has taken a babysitting course, has her phone if there’s a real emergency, and knows home is less than a mile away. Her biggest issues are her mother, who babies her, and her concern that her best friend is ignoring her. Then the shaking starts. After the earthquake, Hannah discovers Pelling is completely cut off from the mainland and the phone towers are down. Her only lifeline is the emergency services broadcasts on the radio. With no adults, Hannah, Zoe, and Oscar must use all their resources to survive. Even as the action steadily increases, the characters behave realistically. Hannah and her charges have reasonable amounts of working knowledge for the emergency but react in an age-appropriate manner to the escalating danger. After reading Behrens’s informative, riveting portrayal of earthquakes and their aftermath, readers may learn how to respond in a similar situation.
VERDICT A realistic, engrossing survival story that’s perfect for aspiring babysitters and fans of John Macfarlane’s Stormstruck!, Sherry Shahan’s Ice Island, or Wesley King’s A World Below.

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