Behrens’s natural disaster–themed epic portrays a young person’s grace under pressure. Hannah, 13, is embroiled in typical early teen drama with friends, school, and her parents. She’s also worried about her second-ever babysitting gig, which will be for a neighbor on the small island of Pelling, near Seattle. Reality exceeds her imagined worst-case scenario after an earthquake traps her and her two young charges—10-year-old Zoe and her younger brother, Oscar—on the island without power, a working phone, or adult guidance. It’s up to Hannah, despite asthma and serious injuries, to keep them safe. Her extraordinary resourcefulness and courage in deadly situations highlight her burgeoning maturity. Behrens (When Audrey Met Alice) uses immersive details and situations effectively viewed from Hannah’s perspective to create a suspenseful, vivid story filled with lessons about responsibility and overcoming adversity. Ages 8–12. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"Fans of survival thrillers in the vein of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet will enjoy this tense, honest tale of bravery...an excellent (and refreshingly not didactic) teaching tool on natural-disaster preparedness." - Booklist
"A suspenseful, vivid story filled with lessons about responsibility and overcoming adversity." - Publishers Weekly
"The strength of this steadily paced novel that stretches over four days of a scary disaster scenario is that Hannah doesn't figure everything out; she stumbles, doubts, and struggles throughout it all" - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"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." - School Library Journal
School Library Journal
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.—Kaetlyn Phillips, Yorkton, Sask.
A simple afternoon of babysitting turns into a battle for survival.
Hannah Steele, 13, is babysitting for only the second time, which makes her a little nervous, especially when she realizes she's forgotten her rescue inhaler. But she's just going to be watching Zoe and Oscar Matlock, who live next door—so what's there to be nervous about? After all, they live on peaceful (and fictional) Pelling Island, a half hour from Seattle—a place Hannah considers utopic, where "nothing really bad ever happens." But then a powerful earthquake strikes the Pacific Northwest. There's no power, no phones, no internet, and no parents, leaving Hannah entirely on her own. Over three thrilling, tension-filled days, Hannah must cope with serious injuries to both Zoe and Oscar as well as little food and water. Moreover, damage to the Matlock house means it's unsafe to stay there. There's a close call with a bear, the stress and exhaustion give her asthma attacks, and Hannah's not sure what to do. Earnest Hannah narrates in a credibly 13-year-old voice, her friendship woes giving her an Everykid feel even as disaster-related action keeps pages flipping. Names suggest some diversity in the community, but Hannah, Zoe, and Oscar present white.
A believable heroine finds her strength during a disaster. (Thriller. 9-13)