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Disaster Strikes, Book 4
Fiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 192
Themes: family, adversity, history
Publisher: Coteau Books
Pub Date: 01/09/2008
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High above the crashing waves on the rugged west coast of Canada stands the lighthouse Nell calls home. It's a tiny world, just the ocean in front and the rainforest in back, but she loves every inch. So when Nell's father wants to send her away to school in Victoria, she refuses to go.

Nell decides to become so helpful to her father that he can't send her away. Her big chance comes when the government runs a telegraph line though the forest, connecting the isolated lighthouses. Nell studies the Morse code manual, teaching herself how to be a telegraph operator. And her study pays off the night she sends an S.O.S. for a stricken ship, aground on the rocks. She feels like a hero, until the telegraph tells her that the rescue went terribly wrong. What is the use of talking to other people if they can't help?

Nell is through with rescues. But early one morning after a terrible storm, she sees yet another ship run aground in the Graveyard of the Pacific. Nell has to get help, but the storm has taken the telegraph lines down. All alone at the lighthouse, is there nothing she can do?

This title is based on two famous west coast shipwrecks. In January 1906, The Valencia, carrying over 100 passengers and 65 crew, missed the turn into Juan de Fuca Strait and ran aground on the west coast of Vancouver Island. A mere eleven months later the Coloma followed. It was a deadly year for the Graveyard of the Pacific, one that spurred the government to build the West Coast Lifesaving Trail as a rescue route for shipwrecked mariners.

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