Monday, January 22, 2007

The Earth Dragon Awakes

Yep, Laurence. 2006. THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060275243 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-5]

Award winning author Laurence Yep captures the terror of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake through the eyes of two young boys. Told from the alternating perspectives of Henry Travis and his friend Chin (the son of the Travis’ houseboy Ah Sing), readers see the best and the worst of humanity during a crisis. While many struggle to help friends and neighbors during the fire that follows the early morning quake, others use what little they have for their own personal gain, price gouging on food and transportation.

“The south side is a giant wall of flame. Some of the skyscrapers are already just steel skeletons. Their collapsed walls burn at their base like a garden of red and yellow flowers. Others are ablaze. They look like giant torches. Chunks of flaming buildings crash to the sidewalk. Specks of soot and fiery sparks fill the air. They look like hordes of angry flies.” Yep’s vivid imagery provides the reader with a dramatic sense of what that day would have been like, but at the same time focuses on the human relationships that mattered more that bricks and mortar. Against this catastrophic background, readers see the friendship between two boys of different class and heritage, and the equalizing effect that a natural disaster has on everyone.

Discuss any natural disasters that readers have experienced first hand or heard about in the media. What types of things did everyday people do that made them heroes?

Other books for children about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906:
Hopkinson, Deborah. INTO THE FIRESTORM. ISBN 0375836527
Karwoski, Gail Langer. QUAKE: DISASTER IN SAN FRANCISCO. ISBN 1561453102

By Tammy Korns

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