By Marlane Kennedy
Scholastic, $4.99, 128 pages
This new series by Marlane Kennedy challenges ordinary non-superhero kids to navigate natural disasters. In Disaster Strikes #1: Earthquake Shock, street smarts and teamwork skills are put to the test as ten-year old Joey and his California friends Fiona, Kevin, and Dylan feel the earth move under their skateboards.
“He tried to keep his balance, but the sidewalk began to roll like a fun-house floor. Joey heard an awful rumbling and the sound of cracking concrete, and suddenly he knew exactly what was happening.”
While the earthquake takes center stage, this story has a sub-plot about growing up and fitting in with kids of different ages. Joey, convinced he’s old enough to take care of himself, is constantly bargaining with his mother to not be babysat. The earthquake serves up two realities: Joey is capable of making important, lifesaving decisions and there is also no place like the comfort of home when life becomes unpredictable.
The prose balances lighthearted youth with serious tones as real life dangers are addressed as the earthquake wreaks havoc on their neighborhood. Disaster Strikes #1: Earthquake Shock is appropriate for middle-grade readers who are comfortable with reality-based danger. This Story is one of adventure and friendship as Joey and his friends find their way home safely.
Reviewed by Lori A. May