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Disaster Strikes, Book 7
Fiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 176
Themes: Natural disaster, mystery, poverty, women's rights
Publisher: Coteau Books
Pub Date: 01/Apr/2012
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June 1912: Ella is surprised by her birthday gift from her mother, a Brownie camera and the advice to seek pictures of things that "don't belong." This is how Ella first notices Billy, a boy at her school who seems out of place. They become good friends, although Ella is sure Billy is keeping something from her. Ella soon realizes there are others to whom the "don't belong" tag applies. They include herself! Helping out at a tea for the women's rights group to which her mother belongs, Ella finds out about her place in society—or the lack of it. But there is someone else who is even more out of place, a stranger who pretends to be something he isn't, and he's up to no good. When Ella's mother's purse is raided, suspicion falls wrongly on Billy. Just as Ella is learning more about herself, her mother and her mysterious friend, the tornado (known then as a cyclone) arrives, bringing devastation to the city. It's the substandard housing of the poor that's worst-hit. But the storm also reveals a few hidden secrets. Can Ella, armed only with her camera and its evidence, help her friend? Based on the story of a real 1912 tornado.

CM Magazine
"Draper's blending of historical events, social issues, and the idea that appearances are not always what they seem is well done throughout the book. Modern girls will identify with Ella's feelings of constriction with women's 'household role,' and this story serves as an excellent introduction to the very real social issues of women's rights, racism, and immigration as they existed in 1912. While the story is mostly told from Ella's viewpoint, Billy's side of the story and the vivid descriptions of the cyclone and its aftermath will keep this book interesting for boys as well...Highly recommended."


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