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Children's LiteratureI must start by stating that Laurence Yep is one of my favorite authors for children's books and this book has not changed my mind in any way. This is a story of the San Francisco Earthquake that happened in 1906. All of the characters in two families are introduced to the reader by page seven, giving the reader an early understanding of how situations are looked at differently. The Travis family is a wealthy family who hire Ah Sing to be their houseboy. Ah Sing and his son Chin live in tenement housing. At dawn on April 18, 1906, the earthquake happens. As the table moves, boxes fall, and possessions crash to the floor, Ah Sing tells his son that the Earth Dragon must be scratching. His son replies, " He must really have an itch." The story takes the reader day-by-day telling about the tragedies and strengths of people who were too determined to give up and leave the city. After the great fire dies out and everyone has a chance to reflect on what has happened and assess their losses, Ah Sing is told by many that he may not go back to where he lived before the earthquake. Mr. Travis explains to Ah Sing that the Chinese people can own their own land and build a new Chinatown in Hunter's Point. The characters in this story learn many lessons—how disasters bring out the best and worse in people, how heroes are made from ordinary people, and how people find strength from within that they never knew they had to start over and rebuild their lives. Yep is an excellent writer and writes this story about the different perspectives of two young friends. I highly recommend this book. 2006, HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12.
—Kathie M. Josephs