Lizzie Newton and the San Francisco Earthquake

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In the early morning on April 18, 1906, a terrible earthquake struck San Francisco, California. Lizzie Newton, who had been staying with her grandmother, woke up frightened but unhurt. She helped her injured grandmother out of the apartment building. People across the city left their homes for fear that the buildings might collapse.

After Lizzie's grandmother was taken to the hospital, ten-year-old Lizzie was on her own. She had to make her way...

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In the early morning on April 18, 1906, a terrible earthquake struck San Francisco, California. Lizzie Newton, who had been staying with her grandmother, woke up frightened but unhurt. She helped her injured grandmother out of the apartment building. People across the city left their homes for fear that the buildings might collapse.

After Lizzie's grandmother was taken to the hospital, ten-year-old Lizzie was on her own. She had to make her way to her parents without any help. Could she find them Would they be all right

In the back of this book, you'll find a script and instructions for putting on a reader's theater performance of this adventure. At our companion website——you can download additional copies of the script plus sound effects, background images, and more ideas that will help make your reader's theater performance a success.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Della A. Yannuzzi
On April 18, 1906, a terrible earthquake and fire struck San Francisco, California. In Millbrook's Press series, "History Speaks," author Krensky retells this historical event through a fictional character named Lizzie Newton in a picture book format. The combination of fact and fiction, plus information on putting on a reader's theater performance of this event should interest readers in learning more about history. The story begins with ten-year-old Lizzie staying at her grandmother's house and waking up to windows, the floor, and her entire room shaking violently. Her grandmother has been injured by a piece of fallen ceiling. They leave the house and witness falling buildings, fires, and people rushing about the streets. After Lizzie gets her grandmother to an ambulance wagon, she goes to find her parents. The city is in shambles with cracks in the streets and earthquake aftershocks. Lizzie begins to help some firemen look for victims under the rubble, and then continues to search for her parents at the Francis Hotel where her father works. The hotel is still standing and has become a temporary safe haven for people. Fires are close by, so Lizzie and her parents decide to go to the top of Russian Hill and stay with a friend. They watch the fires from the top with Lizzie commenting, "It's beautiful in a way." Her mother answers, "Beautiful and terrible at the same time." Lizzie's father responds, "The worst may not be over yet, but San Francisco will rise again. And we will be here to see." A good combination and balance of fact and fiction can draw readers to history topics. Back material includes an Author's Note, instructions for performing a reader's theater, a script, pronunciation guide, glossary, bibliography, and websites. Illustrations are muted, though using bright colors to tone down the horror of such a terrible disaster. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—These books use reader's theater to bring American history to life. Each volume focuses on the experiences of one real person or a fictional character representative of the time, first telling his or her story, then transforming it into a script. Despite the use of primary sources in the stories about the real people, there is a fair amount of fictionalized thought and dialogue, but an author's note at the end of each book should clear up any confusion. Though handsomely illustrated with full-spread paintings, the narrative portions are lackluster, written with surprisingly elementary language and sentence structure. Susan Campbell Bartoletti's Kids on Strike! (Houghton, 1999), Don Brown's Let It Begin Here (Roaring Brook, 2008), and Shelley Tanaka's A Day That Changed America: Earthquake! (Madison Press, 2004) cover the same topics in more compelling ways. It's the reader's theater sections that make these titles stand out. The roles are color-coded for easy differentiation, and lines are evenly apportioned. For reluctant readers, there is a role dedicated to sound effects. The only flaw is the books' constant referencing of the series' website, which promises help with sound effects, printable scripts, prop suggestions, and so on, but leads instead to the publisher's general website where there are no such features.—Rebecca Dash, New York Public Library
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Stephen Krensky did not have the kind of childhood anyone would choose to write books about. It was happy and uneventful, with only the occasional bump in the night to keep him on his toes.

He started writing at Hamilton College in upstate New York where he graduated in 1975. His first book, A Big Day for Scepters, was published in 1977, and he has now written over 100 fiction and nonfiction children's books—including novels, picture books, easy readers, and biographies. Mr. Krensky and his family live in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Jeremy Tugeau graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in illustration. He has illustrated 11 other children's books including Writing Mysteries, Movies, Monster Stories and More (Millbrook Press) and Jingle Bell Sleigh (Grossett and Dunlap). He lives in Cleveland with his wife and baby daughter.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unique, fun, highly educational

    Ten-year-old Lizzie Norton awoke with a start and sat up in bed. She had been dreaming that she was on a train that was lurching up and down on its tracks, yet all the while the shaking was real. Her eyes widened in the darkness of the morning. She ran to her Grammy's room only to find her injured and covered with plaster. It was not safe inside so they hurriedly put on some clothes and went into the streets of San Francisco where a horrible scene of destruction awaited them. Many of the buildings "lay crumbled in heaps," while flames leapt from the rooftops of others. People were frantically trying to leave the city.

    Lizzie was afraid and didn't know quite what to do, but when "an ambulance wagon came clattering down the street," she hailed it. As Grammy boarded the ambulance, she told Lizzie to go home. She soon was on foot headed for home. The aftershocks were frightening and startling "cracks and holes were still opening near Lizzie's feet." She spotted firemen digging through piles of bricks. She could hear the cries of people beneath the rubble as the men struggled to save them. The fires were rampant, communication was nonexistent, and the water pipes had burst. They encouraged Lizzie to head for home, but when she arrived, her house too had been partially destroyed. She had to keep moving on to St. Francis in Union Square. Would she find her parents when she got there? Would she even survive the trek?

    This is a stunningly realistic, fictionalized portrait of Lizzie, a young girl who survived the San Francisco Earthquake. The storyline is exciting and even the most reluctant reader will strive to reach the end of the book to find out what happened to young Lizzie. The full color, full page artwork captures the essence of the horrifying event and subtly conveys a lot of information the text does not discuss. For example, in a street scene we see cracks in the earth, people clustered in groups, while others have gathered up some of their belongings and are escaping on foot or in a horse drawn wagon. This edition introduces the student to Reader's Theater. It gives full instructions on how a performance goes, what to do before, and after the production. The eight-page script can be reproduced for the six performers. A link to the sound effects is given.

    Quill says: Undoubtedly, this amazing book would be a unique, fun, highly educational way to introduce your classroom to Reader's Theater!

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