cover image EARTHQUAKE


Milly Lee, , illus. by Yangsook Choi. . FSG/Foster, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-39964-1

Curiously quiet and flat by contrast to Lee and Choi's previous collaboration, Nim and the War Effort, this story is based on the experience of Lee's mother who, as a child, survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. "This morning the earth shook/ and threw us from our beds./ We were not hurt, just stunned," opens the forthright first-person account. The narrator and her family then pack up their belongings and transport them by cart from Chinatown to Golden Gate Park, which served as a refuge for people whose homes were destroyed by the quake. An aftershock brings the sole interruption to the tedium of the trip, and this moment's excitement is conveyed more effectively by the artwork than the text—a sky ablaze with flames provides the backdrop to the terrified faces of the characters. Throughout, Choi's earth-toned, shadowy paintings propel the tale with expressive faces, period dress and views of a blossoming city ravaged by a natural disaster. The volume ends rather anticlimactically with the family still camped out in the park; only an endnote states that the family moved to Oakland temporarily while San Francisco was rebuilt. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)