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One day in July 2015, I pulled out my Tupperware and started eating a wilted salad at my day-job desk while browsing for a lunchtime read. An article in The New Yorker was getting all kinds of online buzz—it was about earthquakes; in Seattle? Interesting. I clicked to read.
At some point I’m sure I dropped my fork and totally abandoned my salad, because I couldn’t focus on anything but the story I was reading, about the serious threat the Pacific Northwest will face in the coming years from a major megathrust earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page (well, screen). And I couldn’t stop thinking about one particular detail of the devastating, terrifying aftermath: that people in rural communities might not be able to make it home for days after a quake wipes out the roads, bridges, and ferry system.
Those people could be parents.
Where would their kids be?
Immediately, I thought of a babysitter (much like tween me) trying to navigate this natural disaster as it happened.
What if, in a particularly isolated community—perhaps an island suburb—the parents couldn’t get home for hours and hours?
What if those hours turned into days?
My story, The Disaster Days, was sparked.
Of course, that was over four years ago. It took a trip to Seattle, loads of research, months of drafting, even more months of revision, a careful review by a geophysicist PhD, a title change (fun fact: the book was originally called In Case of Emergency), copyediting, proofreading, and a final promotion push for that idea to make it onto bookshelves. Where The Disaster Days hits today!
I’m excited to shift gears in terms of writing in a new genre with The Disaster Days, which is a realistic survival story. I still find it has a lot in common with my previous books: They all feature resourceful girl protagonists, a strong sense of place, a lot of diligent research during the writing process—although in this case I was researching science instead of history, and they represent the kind of books that I most loved as a young reader: historical fiction and realistic survival/adventure fiction (favorites were Hatchet, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Flight 116 Is Down, My Side of the Mountain).
Reviewers so far have called The Disaster Days “riveting,” “tension-filled,” and “epic,” and I hope readers will race to find out what happens to Hannah, Zoe, and Oscar! But at its heart, this story is about empowerment: a determined, quietly brave girl overcoming obstacles both ordinary and extraordinary, and resolving to try her best, even in extreme circumstances.
Also, there’s a really cute guinea pig.
PS: Natural disasters and their aftermath are a big part of this book—and I hope it sparks discussion in classrooms and families! In the Resources section of my website, you can download an educator’s guide, a book-club discussion guide, and a family discussion card to help guide your conversations.

Two new glowing reviews for THE DISASTER DAYS!

I’m excited to share two more trade reviews for The Disaster Days:

“Fans of survival thrillers in the vein of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet will enjoy this tense, honest tale of bravery. . . . [A]n excellent (and refreshingly not didactic) teaching tool on natural-disaster preparedness.” Eleanor Roth, Booklist

Last February, I recorded an episode of the Dream Gardens podcast in which I talked about how much I loved Hatchet as a young reader–and how much I enjoyed rereading it as an adult. So I’m really thrilled that Booklist compared Hannah’s story to a classic that is a personal favorite. 🙂

“The relentless progression of a variety of disaster scenarios will keep readers turning pages even as they learn, along with Hannah, vital information about earthquake safety and survival. Equally suspenseful and informative, this novel will spark important discussions about disaster preparedness.” Jenna MacKay, School Library Connection

Just four weeks till The Disaster Days hits shelves and stores!

A first for The Last Grand Adventure

I’m thrilled to share that The Last Grand Adventure is a 2019 WILLA Literary Award Finalist in Children’s Fiction and Nonfiction. While writing Bea and Pidge’s story, I hoped their journey would celebrate the beauty and rich culture of the parts of the West they traveled through, from Orange County to Atchison, Kansas. It’s deeply meaningful to receive this honor and know that I succeeded in capturing the setting that so inspired me!

About the award: The WILLA Literary Awards honors the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West that are published each year. Women Writing the West (WWW), a non-profit association of writers and other professionals writing and promoting the Women’s West, underwrites and presents the nationally recognized award annually at the WWW Fall Conference. The award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather, one of the country’s foremost novelists.

For more information and to see the other winners and finalists, visit Women Writing the West.

The Disaster Days is a JLG Selection!

The Disaster Days is a Junior Library Guild selection for fall 2019!

I’m thrilled that it will be on even more library shelves thanks to JLG’s fantastic subscription services and recommendations lists.





THE DISASTER DAYS: first trade review!

The first trade review for The Disaster Days is in, and Kirkus loved it!

You can read the full review here, and if your curiosity is piqued, you can preorder a copy now from the following retailers:



Barnes & Noble




THE DISASTER DAYS cover reveal!

A few weeks ago*, the awesome website YAYOMG! helped me share the cover for The Disaster Days–and an exclusive sneak peek into the book.

Be sure to check out all of YAYOMG!’s great book coverage–tons of interviews, posts, cover reveals, roundups, and more!

I also got a special delivery from my editor at Sourcebooks: ARCs!

I’m so excited for this story to head out into the reading world.

*Er, why am I sharing this just now? I have a book due on May 1, and I’ve been in my writing cave. 🙂

The Last Grand Paperback Adventure

Bea and Pidge are hitting the road again–this time, in a fancy new trade paperback.

Maybe it’s because I often read on the go, as a traveler and a commuter (so lighter books = more I can tuck in my tote), but paperback is my favorite format as a reader. I’m excited to see what adventures Bea and Pidge tag along on in this new format!

Add The Last Grand Adventure to your Goodreads shelf!Order in hardcover, paperback, or e-book from these retailers:
The Last Grand Adventure by Rebecca Behrens at Barnes & Noble The Last Grand Adventure by Rebecca Behrens at Books-a-Million The Last Grand Adventure by Rebecca Behrens at Indiebound The Last Grand Adventure Found by Rebecca Behrens at Indigo The Last Grand Adventure Amazon

2018 in Reading

Thanks to Goodreads (which I tend to use as a booklog, pretty much just for this purpose), I’m taking a look back at my reading stats for 2018:

These books took me from Cameroon to Moscow to Fiji to Antarctica to Topsea, and from Ancient Greece to outer space. (Can I get airline miles for this?!)

In terms of category, I read 18 middle grade books, 4 YA, 4 nonfiction, and the rest were adult fiction. And I seem to have a thing for blue covers.

In 2019, I’m switching from reading goals to a reading thesis: read to discover, read diversely, read without time pressure, read joyfully. I’m debating whether to keep tracking online–it is handy for the year-end page and book count (although I cannot figure out why Goodreads insists these 59 books are 60), but it also adds a little pressure to add, add, add books. We’ll see what I decide . . .

What were your favorite books of the year, and what do you hope to read in 2019?

New Canaan + nErDcampLI

Time flies when you’re having fun . . . or you’re revising. I was doing both this fall. In November I turned in the final manuscript for my next MG novel, which will be out in October 2019. The new title (and cover, and a bunch of other info) I’ll share in the new year!

In terms of fun, I had great trips to Wisconsin (where the fall color is always divine), California (where the Disneyland is always magical), and Sleepy Hollow (where the Halloween is pumpkininny). In terms of bookish fun, on October 28 I visited the lovely New Canaan Library for a middle-grade author extravaganza. We had a lively panel followed by a signing, and it was delightful.

The extravagant authors (and friends)

Our books on display at Elm Street Books 🙂

The lovely library

The next Saturday was one of my favorite days of the year: nErDcampLI! I was too busy learning, sharing, connecting, laughing to take many pictures, but here are two:

Our panel on school visits went great–lots of ideas to incorporate for next year!

Book love in cookie form

Now I’m ready to hibernate with a new project I’m writing. Hope your fall was fantastic!

Warwick Children’s Book Festival

Last Saturday, I spent the day in charming Warwick, NY, at the Warwick Children’s Book Festival. I got to meet with eager readers, signed lots of books and shared 1960’s candy (just like Bea and Pidge would’ve eaten on their cross-country trip), and enjoyed local delicacies: NY apples and apple cider doughnuts. After a long week, it was wonderful to get out of the city and connect with book people.

If you have a chance to go next year, I highly recommend it!

Meeting with a reader

I’m still wondering what’s in a Zagnut bar . . .

Cider doughnut!