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The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906


The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

Chin and his father, Ah Sing, live in Chinatown with thousands of other Chinese immigrants. Ah Sing is a houseboy for Mr. Travis, a well-to-do banker who lives in a very nice San Francisco neighborhood with his wife and son, Henry. Henry and Chin are good friends; Henry shares his comic books with Chin, who is using them to learn how to read. Henry's parents and Ah Sing don't approve of the comic books their boys find so interesting.

Henry's dog, Sawyer, is very upset. He's whimpering and afraid, sensing that something is terribly wrong. Even the chickens in Ah Quon's butcher shop are skittish and frightened. What could be scaring the animals?

Over one-third of a million people are sleeping or just waking up around 5 A.M. on April 18, 1906 in the San Francisco area when the earthquake begins. Author Laurence Yep describes what it's like: "It is as if more than 18 million sticks of dynamite explode beneath them. That is more force than the atom bomb that struck Hiroshima."

At the Travis house Sawyer begins to howl. Henry hears a low rumble, then his books bounce off their shelves. Plaster drops off the walls and windows shatter. The house across the street falls apart.

Over in Chinatown the floor in Ah Sing's little apartment actually rolls under his feet. Boxes fall. Possessions are scattered everywhere. Windows shatter, and walls crack and crumble. Then the ceiling falls.

Imagine the chaos and destruction as houses tumble like flimsy paper cards. Water mains break. Thousands of people are trapped under falling rubble --- bricks, wood and plaster. Cable-car tracks are twisted and contorted. Fires are breaking out and spreading rapidly because there aren't enough firemen to fight that many fires. Those who are able to are helping rescue people, pets and a few belongings.  Everyone is desperately trying to find a safe place.

This disaster is bringing out the best in most people, but also the worst as some folks are charging outrageous prices for the few supplies and what little transportation is available.

Henry and Chin's families experience many hazards and great uncertainty, but they do survive the earthquake and the fires. Both Henry and Chin are very proud of their fathers for the way they overcame the hardships and kept their families safe during the disaster.

Reviewed by Carole Turner on April 1, 2006

The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
by Laurence Yep

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2006
  • Hardcover: 117 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060275243
  • ISBN-13: 9780060275242