I Survived: The Galveston Hurricane, 1900
Lauren Tarshis, author
Scott Dawson, Illustrator
Scholastic Books, Historical Fiction, Sep. 7, 2021
Suitable for ages: 8-12
Themes: Hurricane, Galveston, Texas, Bullying, Survival, Community
More than a century later, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 is still America’s deadliest disaster. Lauren Tarshis’s story of one child surviving the horrible event churns with page-turning action and bold hope.
The city of Galveston, Texas, was booming. Perched on an island off the southern coast of Texas, Galveston had been founded in the 1830s. By 1900, it was Texas’s richest and most important city. Boats loaded up with American cotton and wheat steamed from Galveston to countries around the world. Arriving ships were crowded with immigrants. The streets, paved with crushed oyster shells, sparkled like they’d been sprinkled with diamonds.
True, this glittering city was prone to flooding. But just a few years before, a weather forecaster had said the idea of a hurricane striking Galveston was absurd.
So when a storm started brewing on September 8, 1900, no one believed it would be any worse than previous storms. They gathered on the beach to cheer on the wild waves. But what started as entertainment soon turned into a nightmare as those wild waves crashed into the city. By morning, hundreds of homes were destroyed. Eight thousand people were dead. The city had all but disappeared,
In this thrilling installment of Lauren Tarshis’s New York Times bestselling I Survived series, one child finds safety only to head back into the treacherous waters to make sure his neighbors are safe.
Why I love this book/series:
I Survived: The Galveston Hurricane, 1900 is a riveting and suspenseful survival story that will sweep readers into the center of the hurricane. It is a guaranteed page-turner with a lot of heart-stopping action. Tarshis’s snappy text will encourage her audience to keep reading. Scott Dawson’s vivid illustrations add to the tension of the story. Just read the opening paragraph:
“Nooooooooo! A powerful blast of wind grabbed hold of eleven-year-old Charlie Miller and threw him into the raging flood. He screamed for his parents and his little sister as the churning waters swept him away.”
Charlie’s is a very relatable and fun character. He loves magic and studies the techniques of favorite magicians. He uses his tricks on his sister. He and his best friend Sarah spend time at the beach — especially after a storm or high tide causes the streets to flood and creates an “overflow.” The kids put on their swim suits and float down the streets. He has fun until he encounters a school bully, Gordon, who is just plain mean.
An impressive amount of research went into writing this fictional tale, which includes real events and a lot of historical facts. The only real-life character in the book, was Dr. Isaac Cline, head of the Galveston Weather Bureau, who was a widely respected weather expert. (There is more information about Dr Cline in the end papers.) He wrote many articles reassuring the community that a hurricane spun off the coast of Africa would not be able to reach Galveston — only the east coast of the U.S. In 1900, weatherman didn’t have the equipment that is available today. This would make for an interesting discussion.
According to Tarshis, the Galveston Hurricane, 1900, still remains the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history with 6,000 to 10,000 killed. Many people were swept out into the gulf. I didn’t realize that Galveston was an island, a paradise for the residents and tourists. There were miles of beautiful beaches, homes, shops, restaurants, theaters and a port with big ships docking daily. People rode in carriages or on bicycles. It was also the home for many wealthy people.
Charlie didn’t know any survival techniques when he’s swept out into the middle of the hurricane. However, the author does use a technique in her story to show how Charlie finds the will to get out of some tough situations and eventually find a place to survive until the hurricane passes.
Make sure you check out the backmatter, “Keep Reading!” which includea many photographs of the real-life places that inspired Charlie’s story. Readers will get to see photographs of Galveston before and after the huuricane, articles about staying safe during hurricanes and information from the author about writing the story.
Lauren Tarshis’s New York Times bestselling I Survived series tells stories of young people and their resilience and strength in the midst of unimaginable disasters and times of turmoil. Lauren has brought her signature warmth and exhaustive research to topics such as the battle of D-Day, the American Revolution, Hurricane Katrina, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Shark Attacks, the California Wildfires, the Attacks on September 11, 2001 and other world events. She lives in Connecticut with her family, and can be found on-line at laurentarshis.com.
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*Reviewed from a library copy.