Clara is rudely awakened one morning when the most extraordinary thing happens. Her bed starts to heave, the walls of her room shake and she feels as if she were on a ship at sea. Earthquake! We are in San Francisco and it is April 18, 1906. Clara, her mother and father, and the lodgers who share their house set up house in the yard and start to put their lives back together again. With horror they watch the city of San Francisco burn. They hear huge explosions as men try to check the flames by blowing up houses to create firebreaks. Will their house be next? In the middle of this chaos a most extraordinary thing happens. Someone leaves a baby girl on their porch. Clara and her family and friends find themselves put in a most peculiar situation. Who is the baby and why are strangers trying to get her back? Against this backdrop of danger and excitement, Clara and her family try to get to a grip on a terrible loss they suffered not long ago, the death of Clara's elder brother, Giddeon. Somehow the dreadful circumstances in which they are placed makes them face their grief, regret and guilt. Clara is the kind of girl all of us could be, and we feel great empathy for her. We understand her feelings and actions. The author has created a gripping story which makes us think about the strength of the human spirit and which reminds us that there are times when everything is not quite what it seems. 2002, Pleasant Company Publications,
A kidnapping interrupted by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is at the heart of this story of twelve-year-old Clara and her family. The Curfmans run a boardinghouse, and when the quake hits, everyone just moves outside. They are far enough from the center of town that the aftereffects are more inconvenient than tragic. When a baby is left with a note requesting care for the poor "orffin," Clara goes to Golden Gate Park to find the parents. She spots a sign asking for the safe return of six-month-old Helen and also meets Edgar, a boy close to her age who is now an orphan as a result of the quake. He follows her home and assists in the hunt for the baby's parents. The mystery is quickly solved when Helen's nursemaid arrives and spills the beans. She and her hapless boyfriend had been blackmailed into the kidnapping by two ransom-seeking thugs. The thugs return and grab the baby only to abandon her in a rowboat at sea. Strong swimmer Clara becomes a heroine when she tows the boat back to shore. All turns out well. Helen's relieved parents offer Clara a college scholarship as a reward, and Clara's parents will provide Edgar with a permanent home. Although this entry in the American Girl Mysteries is slight and the villains one-dimensional, the suspense builds to the climactic sea rescue. Determined Clara is appealing, and the strength of the writing is in her interactions with the other characters and reactions to the unfolding events,
Pam Carlson <%ISBN%>1584855347
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Set amid the rubble and confusion of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this story is full of suspense and action. Clara, 12, and her family are awakened in the early morning to a damaged home, but one that, miraculously, remains standing. In the aftermath of chaos and fire, she finds an abandoned baby on her doorstep. The mystery deepens when she discovers that the infant is really a girl who has been disguised as a boy. As Clara and her family care for her, they soon discover that the child had been kidnapped and is in danger. The plot unfolds smoothly and builds to a satisfying conclusion. Mystery fans will be hooked by the daring rescues, escapes, and sinister criminals. Details about the earthquake are seamlessly incorporated into the narrative, giving it a real context. A well-done afterword gives more information about the period.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.