Hannah Steele loves living on Pelling, a tiny island near Seattle. It’s a little disconnected from the outside world, but she’s always felt completely safe there.
Which is why when she’s asked one day to babysit after school, she thinks it’s no big deal. Zoe and Oscar are her next-door neighbors, and Hannah just took a babysitting class that she’s pretty sure makes her an expert. She isn’t even worried that she left her inhaler at home.
Then the shaking begins.
The terrifying earthquake only lasts four minutes but it changes everything, damaging the house, knocking out the power, and making cell service nonexistent. Even worse, the ferry and the bridge connecting the kids to help―and their parents―are both blocked. Which means they’re stranded and alone…with Hannah in charge, as things go from bad to dangerous.
This story is written so realistically that you can practically feel the fear coming off the pages.
Let me start out by saying that Zoe is in 4thgrade and Oscar is in 2nd grade so that would make them 10 and 7 years old while Hannah is 13 years old. A 13-year-old babysitting a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old. I don’t know about you but even in a non-dangerous situation this does not seem right. In the words of comedian John Mulaney, “That’s just like hiring a slightly bigger child. That would be like if you were going out of town for the week and you paid a horse to watch your dog”.
Hannah is in way over her head. Not only is the house damaged and they have no way to call for help, Hannah and the kids have limited food and water, are in an isolated neighborhood, and they don’t know when – or if – anyone is coming to help them. Resourceful and terrified, Hannah tries her best to keep the kids from panicking while trying not to panic herself. She makes a few mistakes, but considering the circumstances, I think she does a great job keeping it together.
On top of everything else, Hannah has asthma and doesn’t have her inhaler. Which is extra bad because a few of the many asthma triggers are dust, cold weather, exercise and stress. Basically, the aftermath of an earthquake is not asthma friendly. Hannah’s descriptions on her worsening asthma attacks were just one of many things that scared me while reading this story. If you want to learn how asthma works and how to treat it, click on the YouTube link below to be taken to a TED-Ed video on the subject:
I don’t want to give away any spoilers on how Hannah and the kids manage to survive this disaster so I’m going to stop here. You’ll just have to read the book to find out.
I live in California, which is pretty famous for having earthquakes, so this story was nightmare fuel for me. I’m serious, I got so scared from reading this story I actually had a nightmare. My niece babysits so I plan on giving her this book, so she can prepare a babysitting/earthquake bag.
As a bonus, here’s another TED-Ed video about why earthquakes happen and why they are so hard to predict:
This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about Earthquakes
Boisterous fans celebrating a football game is Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., once triggered a small earthquake.