Surviving the Tsunami: Hear My Story
Surviving the Tsunami: Hear My Story
It seemed like forever, but finally I could feel the sand beneath my feet, and I dragged myself onto the beach. I felt my head with my hand. I could feel a big bump, and when I took my hand away, it was covered with blood. Then I looked down at my leg. It had a long cut on it and it was trickling with blood too.
I had no idea where I was- I couldn’t see anything I recognized around me. I was hungry and thirsty too. I must have been floating in the water for hours. Then, all thoughts of food, drink, and my aching body left my mind. All along the beach were bodies.
The timely “Disaster Diaries” series offers readers a bit of a different twist on the usual books about natural disasters. Its nonfiction chapters alternate with stories, fairly graphic in nature, told from a child’s perspective. Though the children and their families are fictional, their stories are gleaned from personal accounts of natural disaster survivors. In this regard, the subtitles of the books are somewhat of a misnomer for the stories represent less than 40 per cent of the entire text. Each title is comprised of 13 chapters as well as a table of contents, a glossary, an index, and a list of books and web sites for further study. The main body of the text describes the causes and effects of the specific disasters, where on the planet the disasters happen, scientific research, disaster prediction and preparedness, government involvement with respect to new building rules and regulations, and relief efforts. One common thread running through the series is the role that global warming is playing in each of these devastating events. For example, the California wildfire season has increased by 78 days since the 1970s. Additional text boxes provide information about the victims (humans, animals, buildings, infrastructure and entire towns) lost or affected by these tragedies.
Much of what is found in the main body of the text is available in other books, but what makes this series compelling is the first person narrative of (fictional) boys and girls from various parts of the world. Their “recollections” convey the panic they experienced as they and their families tried to flee their homes, find shelter and locate lost relatives, and their sadness over the loss of friends, family, and their homes and villages. For some, the damage to their sense of safety and security will never be repaired. The text is enhanced with abundant colour photographs, maps, diagrams, sketches and satellite images. (A free downloadable teacher’s guide is available, but the activities mainly involve basic recall and presenting facts to the class.)
Of all of the personal accounts in this series, Aditya’s is, perhaps, the saddest. A young boy living in the small village of Alue Naga in Indonesia, Aditya lost his father and several other family members when a tsunami struck on December 26, 2004. In Surviving the Tsunami: Hear My Story, readers will learn about the powerful force of the wall of water in a tsunami, how a tsunami is formed and the areas of the world where people are at particular risk from tsunamis. One such area is the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean. Tsunamis can even occur in colder parts of the world such as Alaska where large sheets of ice fall into the water and the water displacement creates a tsunami. Besides the obvious destruction and loss of life caused by a tsunami, there are many devastating aftereffects, some of which are homelessness, loss of jobs and income, and the spread of disease due to poor sanitation caused by damage to infrastructure.
Informative and educational, the “Disaster Diaries” series’ combination of facts and personal recollections proves that two is sometimes better than one.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.