I Survived series / Lauren Tarshis
INT Grades 2-4 Rating: 5
Lauren Tarshis writes a compelling fiction series aimed at 9-12 year olds. These books are historical fiction (based on events that happened 50+ years ago), but a few are based on more recent events making them realistic fiction.
In I Survived: The Shark Attacks of 1916, ten year old Chet Roscow hears about a great white shark attacking swimmers along the Jersey shore. As the shark attacks continue, fear rises in the residents, even though they are seventy miles south of the attacks. Surely Chet is safe when he swims in Matawan Creek, or is he?
Ten year old George Caulder and his younger sister Phoebe are sailing with their aunt in I Survived: The Sinking of The Titanic, 1912. George meets the Titanic’s designer who tells him about the escape ladders on the starboard side. Will George remember this when the Titanic begins to sink?
Barry Tucker’s family attempt to evacuate New Orleans in I Survived: Hurricane Katrina, 2005. Barry’s younger sister gets sick, and they return home. When the levee breaks, water comes rushing in the front door. They climb onto the roof to escape the flooding, but eleven year old Barry falls off. Will he be rescued?
Lucas Calley skips school in I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001 to visit his dad’s best friend, a fireman in New York City. The World Trade Center is just blocks from Uncle Benny’s fire station. Eleven year old Lucas sees an airplane flying too low, headed for the Twin Towers. Will he see ever Uncle Benny again?
Danny and his mother move to Hawaii from New York City in I Survived: The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941. Eleven year old Danny is unhappy and plans to stowaway on the next ship to America. Danny witness Japanese airplanes flying overhead. What will happen as the bombs get closer?
Leo is a newboy in I Survived: The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906. His job gives him the freedom to roam the city. Eleven year old Leo is bullied by some other boys and robbed of a valuable gold nugget. In the middle of another confrontation with the bullies, the ground starts to shake violently, and everyone’s life is changed.
Thomas and his younger sister Birdie, runaway slaves who join a Union army unit in I Survived: The Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. Thomas saves the life of an army colonel, and he allows them to stay with his unit. Then his unit is ordered to Gettysburg, and they are caught in the middle of the battle. Will they be returned to their owner?
Eleven year old Ben Kudo and his family visit his uncle in I Survived: The Japanese Tsunami, 2011. There is an earthquake, causing their uncle’s house to collapse. They escape but they see the tsunami heading towards them. They cannot outrun it, and Ben is separated from them. Will they find one another alive after the tsunami?
Max Rosen and his younger sister Zena live in a Polish ghetto, struggling to survive after their father was arrested by Nazi soldiers in I Survived: The Nazi Invasion, 1944. They run away and hide on a farm. Eleven year old Max and Zena join others trying to hide from the Nazi as they bomb the forest. Will they survive the Nazi invasion?
I Survived: The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 (February 2015)
Scholastic ISBN 978-0545658461
I Survived: The Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79 finds eleven year old Marcus and his father in slavery; they end up running away. To avoid the slave hunters, they climb the mountain outside the city. When Mt. Vesuvius starts to rumble, they try to warn the residents of Pompeii about the impending doom, but will they be in time?
Lauren Tarshis takes historical fiction to a new level. The books are well-researched and well-written. The series is filled with details about the disasters from a child’s point of view (9-12 years old). Each includes titles for further reading, as well as facts about the disaster. The next book is I Survived: The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 (February 2015).
Highly recommended for public and school libraries for boys and girls. These books fly off the shelves of our school library, and are read eagerly by boys and girls alike.
Carol R. Gehringer
—reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2014.