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Destruction from the San Francisco Earthquake as seen from the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, California on April 18, 1906.
Destruction from the San Francisco Earthquake as seen from the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, California, on April 18, 1906.
(Photo: Library of Congress)

The Earth Dragon Awakes
By Aaron Broder
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

April 18, 2006—The year is 1906. The date is April 18. At 5:11 a.m., people are just starting their day. Yet at 5:12, they stop. The Earth Dragon has awakened.

To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake, award-winning author Lawrence Yep wrote The Earth Dragon Awakes, a story about two boys who not only live through the earthquake, but also learn a valuable lesson about heroes in the process.

Henry and Chin are kids who are bored with their life in San Francisco. Everything is the same: their houses, their furniture, and—in their opinion—their parents. They even think their parents' jobs are boring. Henry's father is a banker, and Chin's father helps around Henry's house.

The boys' only escape from their dull existence is through books called "penny dreadfuls," popular novels based on real-life characters like the gun-toting "lawman" Wyatt Earp.

Then, the earthquake happens, and Henry, Chin, and their parents try to escape the city. As they do, Henry and Chin watch people they once thought boring turn into real heroes.

Lawrence Yep's books have a beautiful writing style, and The Earth Dragon Awakes is no exception. The story is interspersed with facts about the earthquake, which may at first seem like an unnecessary interruption. In fact, it actually enhances the reading experience. The characters of Henry and Chin are well-developed. All in all, this book is an exciting way to learn about a terrible disaster.


Weather Watch: Earthquakes
Check out this Scholastic News Special Report to learn all about what causes earthquakes.

USGS: Earthquake Hazards Program
Learn more about the the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake at this Web site. Be sure to check out the cool photos, maps, and graphs!

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