On a Peaceful Spring Morning, Disaster Strikes San Francisco. On the early morning of April 19, 1906, the city of San Francisco was struck by a devastating earthquake that crumpled buildings, cracked water mains, broke gas pipes, and sent kerosene lamps flying. Fires quickly engulfed most of the city, leaving exhausted civilians to fight the flames with well water, sewer water, and old rags. Despite valiant rescue efforts, estimates place the death toll at around 3,000.
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Grade 5-8–Using dramatic material culled from the adult recollections of four survivors–Hugh Kwong Liang (15), Doris Bepler (10), Sol Lesser (16), and DeWitt Baldwin (8)–Tanaka re-creates a series of events during and following the great San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906. Liberally laced with contemporary photos and some colorful artwork, the book also contains fact boxes on earthquakes, fire horses, and Chinatown, and includes a city map marked with sites mentioned in the text. Less detailed than Lisa Chippendale's The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 (Chelsea, 2000) and James House's The San Francisco Earthquake (Lucent, 1989; o.p.), this book still deserves consideration because of its youthful views of a national catastrophe. Readable, personal.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
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Gr. 3-5. Like the other books in the A Day that Changed America series, this one focuses on a landmark historical event. The 47-second earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906 is brought vividly to life through the eyewitness accounts of four young survivors. Their personal accounts convey the great losses and suffering wrought by the disaster, as well as the inevitable heroics and the small miracles that arise from such situations. Informative sidebars explain such things as the Richter scale and why great fires broke out in the city following the earthquake. Complementing the text are detailed paintings, historic photographs, artifacts, maps, and diagrams. Appendixes include a glossary and suggestions for further reading. Attractively illustrated and designed, this book offers a good story as well as solid information. Ed Sullivan
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