I just finished scouting out the latest survival tale by Lauren Tarshis: I Survived the Children’s Blizzard, 1888. As with her other survival novels, she effectively transports readers back in time, bringing a period of history alive through the dangerous events experienced by young characters..
In this offering, John, his parents and sister Franny move from Chicago to Dakota Territory. It’s 1887, and Mama and Papa are thrilled to take the government up on its offer of 160 acres of free farmland. Frontier life, however, is initially not so idyllic for John, who enjoyed his city life, friends and the not-as-extreme temperatures of Chicago. Here, he endures the sweltering summer, the bitter-cold winter and his family’s rustic home made of sod, which occasionally leaks and frequently contains bugs and mice. Over time, however, John becomes part of a tight group of friends and wants to attend school. After a winter cold snap keeps them homebound, John and Franny return to school only to be caught up in a massive, quickly-approaching blizzard. The story pace quickens equally. Franny becomes missing, John risks his life and needs to be rescued, then he and his friends find themselves abandoned in deadly conditions. Readers will root for John and friends as they fight to survive the lethal blizzard.
By the time readers get to the end of the story, they’ll want to learn more about this historic blizzard that took the lives of 100 children. Thankfully, Tarshis includes a thorough Questions and Answers section following the conclusion of the story.
The straightforward simplicity of this story makes it most suitable for third, fourth and some fifth-grade readers.
Written by Lauren Tarshis
Accelerated Reader Level 4.3
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