Each I SURVIVED book tells the story of one of history’s most terrifying events, through the eyes of a kid who lived to tell the tale. A mix of real history and thrilling plots will take you into the midst of events that have shaped our world, from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to the Nazi Invasions of 1944 to the Joplin tornado of 2011. Each character will face life-or-death challenges to discover that even in history’s darkest moments, hope stays alive.
Want more thrilling stories? Read I SURVIVED True Stories.
The mountain exploded with the power of ten million tons of dynamite . . .
Eleven-year-old Jessie Marlowe has grown up with the beautiful Mount St. Helens always in the background. She’s hiked its winding trails, dived into its cold lakes, and fished for trout in its streams. Just looking at Mount St. Helens out her window made Jess feel calm, like it was watching over her somehow. Of course, she knew the mountain was a volcano . . . but not the active kind, not a volcano that could destroy and kill!
Then Mount St. Helens explodes with unimaginable fury. Jess suddenly finds herself in the middle of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic event in U.S. history. Ash and rock are spewing everywhere. Can Jess escape in time?
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT ST. HELENS
- The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 was one of the most environmentally destructive in world history, destroying 230 square miles of wilderness (more than three times the size of Washington, DC).
- It was the most powerful natural disaster ever recorded in America, more powerful than Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.
- The main volcanic cloud rose to between 12 and 15 miles into the sky, into the Earth’s stratosphere.
- Before St. Helens erupted, the volcano was 9,677 feet tall, the fifth-tallest mountain in the Cascades). Following the eruption, St. Helens lost over one thousand feet in height, now standing at 8,363 feet tall.
- The landslide caused by the eruption covered 23 square miles of land, traveled at 70-150 miles per hour, and was roughly 100 feet deep. The landslide alone destroyed 27 bridges, 185 miles of highway, and roughly 3 million trees.
In May of 1937, the Hindenburg, a massive German airship, caught fire while attempting to land in New Jersey, killing 35 people. Lauren Tarshis's latest thrilling addition to the New York Times bestselling I SURVIVED series, will feature an 11-year-old boy in the middle of this historic disaster.
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE HINDENBURG
In their day, the Hindenburg and other commercial zeppelins were the fastest way to cross the Atlantic Ocean, travelling from Europe to North or South America in half the time of the fastest ocean liner.
Many of the passengers with tickets on the Hindenburg's return flight from the United States to Germany were planning to attend the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in London the following week.
The Hindenburg disaster is the most famous airship accident in history thanks to the iconic film footage and the emotional eyewitness account of radio reporter Herbert Morrison, who uttered the famous words “Oh, the humanity!”.
Zeppelins are HUGE! The Hindenburg alone was close to 804 feet long, which is longer than three Boeing 747 jumbo jets placed end-to-end and just 79 feet shy of the length of the Titanic.
Zeppelins pioneered airmail service across the Atlantic, and the Hindenburg carried approximately 17,000 pieces of correspondence on its final voyage. Amazingly, 176 pieces stored in a protective container survived the crash and were postmarked four days after the disaster.
The 2011 Joplin tornado was a catastrophic tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri in 2011. It was part of a larger tornado outbreak in the spring of that year and reached a maximum width of nearly 1 mile during its path through the southern part of the city, killing 158 people, injuring over 1,000, and causing damages amounting to a total of $2.8 billion, making it the costliest single tornado in U.S. history. Lauren will bring her signature intensity to this distinctly American natural disaster, placing a young boy in the middle of one of the deadliest tornadoes to strike the United States since 1947.
REAL FACTS ABOUT TORNADOES
Tornadoes have touched down in every part of the world except Antarctica, but the majority of them happen in the United States.
The United States has been struck by ten times as many tornadoes as Canada, which ranks second.
Half of all US tornadoes hit in the central plains; the area from northern Texas to North Dakota, which is often called Tornado Alley.
An average of 1,000 tornadoes touch down in the United States every year.
If you are ever taking shelter from a tornado at home, put on a bike helmet or ski helmet to protect yourself from flying debris.
In a national contest, readers voted and decided that the next I SURVIVED topic will be the Great Chicago Fire, 1871!
Could an entire city really burn to the ground? Oscar Starling never wanted to come to Chicago. But then Oscar finds himself not just in the heart of the big city, but in the middle of a terrible fire! No one knows exactly how it began, but one thing is clear: Chicago is like a giant powder keg about to explode.
An army of firemen is trying to help, but this fire is a ferocious beast that wants to devour everything in its path, including Oscar! Will Oscar survive one of the most famous and devastating fires in history?
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE GREAT CHICAGO FIRE
The fire began at around 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 8, 1871. In the end, it destroyed an area of the city four whole miles long and one mile wide.
Like some of the characters in the book, many children living in Chicago at the time of the Great Chicago Fire were orphaned. Many children lost their parents to diseases that today are curable, such as cholera and influenza; others had lost their fathers on the battlefields of the Civil War, which ended in 1865.
An estimated 300 people died in the fire. At the time, about 334,000 people lived in Chicago, so the vast majority of the residents did manage to escape.
Amazingly the deadliest fire in U.S. history happened the very same day as the Great Chicago Fire, about 250 miles to the north, in Peshtigo, Wisconsin.
In I SURVIVED: The Destruction of Pompeii, 79 A.D., one boy struggles to escape the infamous eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Can he survive the most devastating disaster of ancient times? In this thrilling addition to the bestselling I SURVIVED series, readers are taken back to antiquity with a young boy trying to escape the doomed city as the giant volcano erupts. Does he have what it takes to survive the epic destruction of Pompeii?
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE DESTRUCTION OF POMPEII
The eruption lasted for three days and buried Pompeii under thirty feet of ash and stone.
Many people did escape in the first hours after the eruption. Most of those who stayed behind were likely killed by the waves of gases and fire that swept down the mountain. These pyroclastic surges traveled at 400 miles per hour, and instantly burned everything in their paths.
Pompeii was buried in AD 79 and sealed for centuries, like a time capsule. The ash and stone preserved more than just the buildings. Archeologists have unearthed thousands of artifacts — skeletons, petrified loaves of bread, statues, toys, furniture, chariots, gladiator helmets, silverware, cooking pots, shoes, earrings, and much, much more.
Vesuvius is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes — and also one of the most closely monitored.
Today, nearly two thousand years after Pompeii was destroyed, we remain powerless against the destructive fury of a major volcanic eruption. Much of this beautiful region of Italy would likely be buried again.
In a Polish ghetto, Max Rosen and his sister Zena struggle to live after their father is taken away by the Nazis. With barely enough food to survive, the siblings make a daring escape from Nazi soldiers into the nearby forest.
Max and Zena are brought to a safe camp by Jewish resistance fighters. But soon, bombs are falling all around them. Can Max and Zena survive the fallout of the Nazi invasion?
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE NAZI INVASION
In the 1930s, a large number of Germans were poor and desperate; it was during this time that Adolf Hitler rose to power. He stood in front of huge crowds of Germans and made a big promise — that he would lead Germany back to strength after their defeat in World War I. And many people, hungry for change, put their faith in him.
Jewish people tried to leave Europe when Hitler came to power, but since most nations had very strict rules about immigration, the majority of them had nowhere they could go. When World War II officially began, leaving Europe became even more difficult.
In order to survive, the Jewish partisans built secret camps deep in the forests, with underground dwellings that were almost invisible even to someone walking nearby. They scrounged for food, often forced to steal from local farmers or from Nazi food warehouses. Above all, they worked together to survive.
The largest and most famous Jewish partisan camp was organized by three brothers, Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski. In addition to fighting Nazis, the Bielskis rescued and protected more than 1,200 Jewish men, women, and children.
World War II officially ended on September 2, 1945 when Japan surrendered to the Allied troops. By then, Hitler had already taken his own life and hundreds of thousands of survivors were freed from concentration camps.
The disaster felt around the world...
Visiting his dad's hometown in Japan four months after his father's death would be hard enough for Ben. But one morning the pain turns to fear: first, a massive earthquake rocks the quiet coastal village, nearly toppling his uncle's house. Then the ocean waters rise and Ben and his family are swept away and pulled apart by a terrible tsunami.
Now Ben is alone, stranded in a strange country a million miles from home. Can he fight hard enough to survive one of the most epic disasters of all time?
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI
The Tohoku Earthquake had a magnitude of 9.03—the strongest ever known to hit in Japan, and the fourth-largest earthquake ever recorded in history.
Nearly 16,000 people died in the Tohoku Disaster.
"Tsunami" is a Japanese word that literally means "harbor wave." Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes that occur under the ocean floor, though they can also be caused by landslides, volcanic eruptions, or meteor crashes. This makes them much different—and much more dangerous—than regular ocean waves, which are caused by wind moving over the ocean's surface.
The Tohoku Tsunami was hundreds of miles long, and destroyed towns, villages, and cities along more than three hundred miles of Japan’s northeastern coast. Like the Tohoku Earthquake, the Tohoku Tsunami was one of the largest ever recorded.
The Tohoku Tsunami and Earthquake didn’t just cause a disaster at sea; they also caused a major disaster on land by severely damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Nuclear power is a kind of electricity created through a domino effect: a chemical reaction creates heat, which boils water, which produces steam, and then, finally, electricity! But if a nuclear plant is damaged, things can go wrong very quickly. At Fukushima, the quake and wave knocked out electricity, caused fires, and sent extremely harmful, radioactive particles into the atmosphere.
Between the Tohoku Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Daiichi power plant failure, nearly 130,000 buildings were totally destroyed and roughly 1 million buildings were badly damaged.
The bloodiest battle in American history is under way...
It's 1863, and Thomas and his little sister, Birdie, have fled the farm where they were born and raised as slaves. Following the North Star, looking for freedom, they soon cross paths with a Union soldier. Everything changes: Corporal Henry Green brings Thomas and Birdie back to his regiment, and suddenly it feels like they've found a new home. Best of all, they don't have to find their way north alone — they're marching with the army.
But then orders come through: The men are called to battle in Pennsylvania. Thomas has made it so far...
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
Imagine what it would be like to have no say in what happened to you. That’s what life was like for the nearly 4 million slaves living in the United States in 1860, the year before the Civil War began.The Civil War lasted four years and ended in 1865. Slavery was also one of the main reasons the war was fought at all—because America couldn’t agree on whether or not the country’s many African American slaves should be free. When Abraham Lincoln became president, more and more people in the North were saying that America should not have slavery anywhere. Already it was illegal in the North. They said it had to be banned in the South, too.
Nobody knows exactly how many people died during the Civil War, but historians estimate that it was about 750,000. That’s more than the number who died in all of the other wars America has fought combined.
Sadly, slavery has been a fact of human life for thousands of years. Even some of our country’s founding fathers—George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—owned slaves.
Some slaves (like Thomas and Birdie in I SURVIVED: The Battle of Gettysburg, 1863) decided to take matters into their own hands. Like them, thousands of slaves from the American South attempted to escape by following the North Star, finding safe harbor on Underground Railroad—a network of people who felt that slavery was wrong, and were willing to offer their homes as safe harbor for slaves escaping to freedom in the North.
The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest in the Civil War. The Confederate Army (from the South) lost 28,000 men, more than a third of their army. The Union Army (from the North) lost 23,000, but their army was bigger, and there were more people living in the North. Even so, the battle was devastating to both sides, and is commemorated today with the Gettysburg Memorial in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Following the battle, Gettysburg was chosen by Abraham Lincoln as the site of his time-honored Gettysburg Address, beginning with the famous words: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
On the day that shocks the world, one boy just wants to find his dad.
The only thing Lucas loves more than football is his Uncle Benny, his dad's best friend at the fire department where they both work. Benny taught Lucas everything about football. So when Lucas's parents decide the sport is too dangerous and he needs to quit, Lucas has to talk to his biggest fan.
So the next morning, Lucas takes the train to the city instead of the bus to school. It's a bright, beautiful day in New York. But just as Lucas arrives at his uncle's firehouse, everything changes—and nothing will ever be the same again.
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
By 10 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, terrorists had crashed three commercial jets into three iconic American superstructures: The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were flown into the North Tower (Tower 1) and the South Tower (Tower 2); American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
By 10:05 a.m., a fourth and final jet – United Airlines Flight 93 – crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Later, it was learned that Flight 93 was intended for either the U.S. Capitol building or the White House in Washington, D.C. Passengers on that plane learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and stormed the cockpit to try and regain control of the plane.
By 10:30 a.m., both the South Tower and the North Tower of the World Trade Center had collapsed. On the day of the attacks, 50,000 people were working in the World Trade Center. 2,016 of them died, in addition to 343 firefighters and 60 police officers.
On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, a 9/11 Memorial was dedicated at Ground Zero in New York City-the sixteen acre disaster zone surrounding the fallen towers. The memorial features the world's largest man-made waterfalls and reflecting pools of about an acre in size each.
Ten-year-old Leo loves being a newsboy in San Francisco—not only does he get to make some money to help his family, he’s free to explore the amazing, hilly city as it changes and grows with the new century. Horse-drawn carriages share the streets with shiny new automobiles, businesses and families move in everyday from everywhere, and anything seems possible.
But early one spring morning, everything changes. Leo’s world is shaken—literally—and he finds himself stranded in the middle of San Francisco as it crumbles and burns to the ground. Does Leo have what it takes to survive this devastating disaster?
REAL FACTS ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE
Earthquakes are caused by movement of the earth's tectonic plates-gigantic pieces of the planet's rocky crust. The edges of the plates are rough, and sometimes knock into one another, getting stuck. They get so stuck, in fact, that only a sudden violent movement-an earthquake-can get them unstuck!
Eighty percent of the world's earthquakes happen in an area of the Pacific Ocean nicknamed the "ring of fire." The Pacific plate is always moving, and caused recent powerful earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand, and Japan. It also caused the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.
The most earthquake-prone state in the United States is Alaska. That's where America's strongest earthquake occurred, a quake measuring 9.2 that hit Prince William Sound on March 28, 1964.
The deadliest earthquake on record happened in central China, in the year 1556. It struck a region where most people lived in caves carved into soft rock. The earthquake caused the caves to collapse, and an estimated 830,000 people died.
Eleven-year-old Danny Crane is alone on his favorite beach in Hawaii when the world is torn apart and World War II officially hits the United States. Does he have what it takes to find his way home in the midst of the bombs, the smoke, and the destruction of the day that will live in infamy?
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOMBING OF PEARL HARBOR
In the attacks on Pearl Harbor, nearly 2,500 people were killed: 2,388 American military personnel; 48 American civilians; and 64 Japanese military personnel.
American artillery also suffered great losses. Naval forces suffered the total destruction of 164 aircraft; 12 sunk or beached ships; and 9 damaged ships.
Four months after the Pearl Harbor attack, American leaders decided that approximately 100,000 people of Japanese descent, the majority of them American citizens, should be forced to live in special guarded camps called "internment camps." They were forced to stay there until the end of the war in 1945. Today, the "internment" of loyal Japanese Americans is considered a shameful act in American history. The federal government officially apologized in 1983.
Pearl Harbor convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress that the United States should enter World War II, which at that time had already been raging in Europe for about 2 years. It would become the bloodiest war in history. Nearly 60 million people died, including more than 400,000 American soldiers.
Today, Pearl Harbor is still a major military base. It is also a monument and a graveyard, where you can visit the USS Arizona Memorial.
Barry's family tries to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina hits their home in New Orleans. But when Barry's little sister gets terribly sick, they're forced to stay home and wait out the storm.
At first, Katrina doesn't seem to be as bad as predicted. But overnight the levees break, and Barry's world is literally torn apart. He's swept away by the floodwaters, away from his family. Can he survive the storm of the century—alone?
REAL FACTS ABOUT HURRICANE KATRINA
Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst disasters ever to strike the United States, with a death toll that reached 1,800 people.
More than 340,000 people evacuated from New Orleans before the storm hit. But many were too old or sick to make the trip, or couldn't afford the costs of evacuation — leaving an estimated 100,000 people behind.
In the weeks after the flood, the Humane Society of the United States organized the biggest animal rescue in history. They broke into boarded-up houses, plucked dogs and cats from rooftops and trees, and even rescued pigs and goats.
Americans donated more than $1 billion to help the victims of Katrina. Other countries donated, too. The largest donor was the government of Kuwait, which gave $500 million.
Today, New Orleans is protected by a storm-protection system, a 133-mile long chain of new levees, flood walls, gates and pumps. There is no guarantee that the system will be 100-percent effective in a strong hurricane. But it is a vast improvement over what existed when Katrina struck in 2005.
In the summer of 1916, ten year-old Chet Roscow is captivated by the local news: A great white shark has been attacking and killing people up and down the Atlantic coast, not far from Chet's hometown of Springfield, New Jersey.
Then one day, swimming with his friends, Chet sees something in the water…
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE SHARK ATTACKS
Of the more than 350 known shark species, only 4 are particularly prone to attack people: the bull shark (which is considered by many experts to be the most dangerous to humans); the great white; the tiger shark; and the hammerhead.
Shark attacks are very rare. In 2008, there were only 118 attacks reported world-wide and 4 deaths. In contrast, an average of 125,000 people die of snakebites each year.
Some scientists believe that most sharks don’t mean to attack humans, but mistake surfers or swimmers for large sea mammals, like seals. This could explain why most shark attacks on humans are not fatal: a shark takes one bite, realizes its mistake, and swims away.
Most shark attacks happen to people swimming alone in the ocean. Experts suggest that the best way to avoid attack is to swim in groups. Other tips: Avoid swimming at night or at dusk; don’t swim with a dog, because the whirling motion of its paws in the water can attract sharks; leave jewelry at home, since bright objects can also attract sharks; and don’t swim in the ocean if you have a bleeding wound.
Every year, humans kill nearly 100 million sharks. They do so mainly for their fins, which are a prized ingredient for shark fin soup. In fact, many species are endangered, including the great white.
Ten-year-old George Calder can't believe his luck—he and his little sister, Phoebe, are on the famous Titanic, crossing the ocean with their Aunt Daisy. The ship is full of exciting places to explore, but when George ventures into the first class storage cabin, a terrible boom shakes the entire boat. Suddenly, water is everywhere, and George's life changes forever.
REAL FACTS ABOUT THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC
The Titanic was 882 feet, 8 inches long (the length of four city blocks), and 92 feet, 6 inches wide (almost the length of a football field).
The massive ship could carry up to 3,547 people, and had 2,224 passengers on board for its first—and final—trip. However, it only had enough lifeboats to carry 1,178 people.
On Sunday, April 14, 1912, at 11:40 p.m., the Titanic struck the iceberg that would cause it to sink. It sank 2 hours, 40 minutes later at 2:20 a.m. on Monday, April 15.
When the Titanic sent out distress signals, the ship the Californian was just 6 miles away. Its radio operator had gone to bed just ten minutes before. Even though the Titanic also fired distress flares, people on the Californian thought they were just having a party.
The sinking of the Titanic inspired better safety regulations on major shipping vessels. Now, all ships must carry enough lifeboats for every passenger on board. Ships’ radios are manned 24 hours a day. Regular lifeboat drills are held, and speed is reduced in ice, fog, or any other dangerous weather conditions.
From a group of students surviving the 9.0 earthquake that set off a historic tsunami in Japan, to a boy nearly frozen on the prairie in 1888, these unforgettable kids lived to tell tales of unimaginable destruction — and, against all odds, survival. These five true stories include: The Children's Blizzard, 1888; The Titanic Disaster, 1912; The Great Boston Molasses Flood, 1919; The Japanese Tsunami, 2011; and The Henryville Tornado, 2012.
REAL FACTS ABOUT FIVE EPIC DISASTERS
The Children’s Blizzard, 1888
There is no place on earth with more extreme weather conditions than America’s northern plains. But if that isn’t bad enough, get ready for grasshoppers, also known as locusts. Swarms containing billions of the insects would sweep down from the sky and devour everything in their path.
The Titanic Disaster, 1912
The Titanic was lost in the North Atlantic, eight hundred miles from land. For decades people searched for the wreckage. Finally, on September 2, 1985, the Titanic was found by Dr. Robert Ballard.
The Great Boston Molasses Flood, 1919
The Great Boston Molasses Flood was one of the strangest disasters in history and has been largely forgotten besides a small metal plaque in Boston’s North End.
The Japanese Tsunami, 2011
The force of the Great Tohoku Earthquake shifted Earth on its axis. It measured 9.0 on the Richter scale making it the strongest earthquake ever to hit Japan since record keeping began.
The Henryville Tornado, 2012
An average of 1,200 tornadoes strike the United States every year. The largest tornado ever recorded was 2.6 miles wide.
From 14-year-old Joseph Dunn who was the lone survivor of the Shark Attacks of 1916, to 9-year-old Mike Kramer who, with the help of his quick-thinking parents, survived the Peshtigo fire of 1871, to the 13-year-old girl who survived a terrifying attack by a box jellyfish, this is a collection of unforgettable narrative non-fiction stories of unimaginable destruction — and, against all odds, survival.
REAL FACTS ABOUT FIVE NATURAL DISASTERS
A person is more likely to be killed by a coconut falling on their head than by a shark.
Sharks are more likely to approach lone swimmers, so best to stay in a group. Also, avoid swimming at dawn or dusk when sharks typically feed.
There are 1,500 active volcanoes in the world today.
The tallest volcano in the solar system is on Mars and it's called Olympus Mons and it's 15.5 miles high.
The Peshtigo Fire claimed 800 lives and happened on very same day at the Great Chicago Fire!
Every year there are an average of 70,000 wildfires in the United States. Lightning causes 10 percent of all wildfires.
There are more than 2,000 species of jellyfish and some of them even glow in the dark!