The Great Shaking: An Account of the Earthquakes of 1811 and 1812

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In vivid, measured prose a bear narrates his experience of the 1811-1812 New Madrid (Missouri) earthquakes, capturing both the awe they sparked and their dangers. The bear tells of omens--floods and strange fevers--with gruff cynicism. For him ``the bother'' started one winter night when it felt ``as if Mother was rising from her sleep.'' Hot springs and geysers pour through new cracks in the earth, followed by 13 days of shaking ``like a gentle sea.'' In a final onslaught, ``the Great Bear from the Stars stepped out of the sky onto Mother's back.'' Arresting images (``a stag whose antlers were filled with crows'') pepper the text while an appealing antiquity shades the often deadpan voice of the crusty bear. Parker's hand-colored aquatints, finely sketched with strongly colored backgrounds, evoke the earth's power and spells of eerie calm. Unusually fluid lines soften the terror of the quakes while testifying to their force. A useful note on earthquakes concludes the work. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-In the spring of 1811, a series of unusual events occurred almost as if in forewarning of the larger events to come. Great floods were followed by people coming down with strange fevers, a mass exodus of squirrels, and the appearance of a two tailed-comet. Then, in winter, the shakings began. Here is the tale, as seen through the eyes of a bear, of what it was like to be at the epicenter of the vast New Madrid earthquakes. Holes and fissures opened up in the Earth's crust, swallowing whatever lay near. The great Mississippi ran backward. All people, red, white, and black, prayed for salvation. Brief but fluid sentences read more like poetry than prose, while watercolor-and-ink illustrations, often in dusted, darkened tones, evoke the fear and wonder of nature's elements of earth, fire, and flood. Parker's rustic style and Carson's lyrical text are a perfect match. This is a superb book in both its words and its pictures that will be enjoyed when read quietly, but the lilting language begs to be read aloud. It's sure to spark further interest and research into the phenomenon of earthquakes.-Lisa Wu Stowe, Great Neck Library, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531086599
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1994
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.05 (w) x 11.33 (h) x 0.38 (d)

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