I’m really excited to share that The Disaster Days was selected by Bank Street College of Education as one of its “best books” of 2020. From Bank Street’s website:
[The 2020] edition includes more than 600 titles chosen by the Children’s Book Committee as the best of the best published in 2019. In choosing books for the annual list, reviewers consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes. Each book accepted for the list is read and reviewed by at least two committee members and then discussed by the committee as a whole.
Awesome! You can view the whole list here and grow your reading list 🙂
The scariest thing about writing The Disaster Days was realizing how the heightened scenario I put my characters in–which really felt like capital-F Fiction when I started working on the book, despite all that research–was, actually, pretty realistic. Natural disasters do happen, and when they do, they turn our worlds upside down.
As we all understand now, pandemics also happen, and they are just as unsettling and devastating.
Readers have reached out to me over the past couple of weeks to share how The Disaster Days has some new layers of resonance and relatedness now that most of us are hunkered down at home. And I started to think that maybe readers–especially young readers–might enjoy discussing Hannah’s story of resilience right now. But, of course, we all need to practice social distancing! #flattenthecurve
So I’d like to host virtual video book club discussions for any interested readers–of all ages, including kids, educators, and parents–on Google Hangouts. Up to 9 readers* and I will discuss the book for a half hour, and there will be time for an open Q&A. The first is scheduled for Thursday, April 2, at 3:30 PM EST–but I’ll keep scheduling sessions if more readers are interested.
How to join? Send me an email and I’ll add you to the list. You’ll receive an email a few days beforehand to confirm. If you’d like to think up some questions or discussion ideas ahead of time, check out the book club discussion guide and other resources.
Hope to see you there, and be well!
*I think Hangouts can only handle 10 email addresses in one video chat. If I’m wrong and the max is higher, there can be more. And please feel free to attend as families, siblings–whoever is in your shelter-in-place pod!
There’s a reason I’ve been in my writing cave lately: I’ve been finishing final edits on a new book coming out this year! Alone in the Woods releases on October 6, 2020.
And the awesome website YAYOMG! helped me share its super-cool cover and an exclusive sneak peek into the book. Head over there to check them out and to enter to win:
For more details on the story and to preorder, check out this page.
And for some behind-the-scenes photos and related websites, visit its resources page on my site.
According to my Instagram, these nine photos sum up my 2019:
I see a lot of books (launching The Disaster Days and receiving an honor for The Last Grand Adventure), writing (I took my 2020 release from blank page to revised, final manuscript in 11 months!), and one throwback to my very delicious wedding cake from several years ago. Cakes and books: that seems like the best of a year to me!
Hope you had a happy year, with plenty of opportunities for joy, creativity, and growth.
Author friend Michelle Schusterman and I had a fantastic time visiting schools and bookstores in the Dallas area this November: Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound; Bowie, Crockett, Lady Bird Johnson, and Lamar Middle Schools in Irving; Barnes & Noble Southlake; and Interabang Books!
We were so impressed by the engaged readers and talented writers we met along the way. Here are a few photos from our tour:
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”7″ display=”basic_slideshow”](Interested in having me, or us, visit your school? Check out my Visits page for more info!)
Pics, or it didn’t happen, right? 🙂
October was a whirlwind of bookish events, and I’ve had a great time introducing The Disaster Days to readers. Here are some photos from my launches in New York and Wisconsin and other places I’ve shared my book:
The Disaster Days may be fiction, but natural disasters–like the major earthquake Hannah, Zoe, and Oscar experience–are sadly real. Young readers might have a lot of questions, and some concerns, after reading their story, so I’ve put together a few resources for parents and educators to help them discuss the book with kid readers. You can find (and download) them all on the book’s Resources page, and here’s a description of each:
The Disaster Days Educator Guide: This comprehensive educator’s guide, aligned to the CCSS for grades 4-7, has prereading information, comprehension questions, comprehension activities, and enrichment activities, as well as a list of resources.
The Disaster Days Discussion Guide: This two-page discussion guide is great for small groups and book clubs! It contains some background information about the book, followed by 10 conversation-sparking questions.
The Disaster Days Family Discussion Card: This postcard is a handy “cheat sheet” for grownups who want to talk about what their young reader is reading. One side has a summary about what the story is about; the other side has a few questions to spark a conversation before, during, and after reading the book and also to connect to current events. If you’d like a print copy of this card, contact me!
The Disaster Days has been making its way around the blogosphere and Bookstagram, and I’m so grateful to the reviewers, bloggers, and bookstagrammers who’ve taken the time to read and then write such thoughtful reviews!
“Really, really enjoyed this!” Ms. Yingling Reads
“This story was truly page-turning and exciting” Tara Creel Books
“I was enraptured enough by this book that I kept getting feelings of sorrow with each thing that happened to them. I wanted to reach into the book and, if nothing else, grab hold of them and let them know it was going to be okay.” Reading Authors
“Are you serious with this book?! I was on the edge of my seat the entire time while reading” @TheSmileLines via KidLitExchange
“Rebecca Behrens’s The Disaster Days is a compelling and empowering middle-grade disaster story that will have readers on the edge of their seats and breathless!” Aeicha at Word Spelunking
“Readers who like adventure and wonder what it would be like to live/survive in an earthquake zone will be riveted to every page of Hannah’s story.” The Reading Tub
“Behrens does a great job drawing readers into experiencing the children’s feelings of fear and hopelessness. Each chapter has enough peril and nail biting angst to keep even the most reluctant reader eagerly reading to find out what will happen next to Hannah and her charges.” You Decide: Should I Read It Or Not?
“Very much recommended to anyone who loves kids surviving on their own stories!” Charlotte’s Library
“I really liked how Hannah develops as a character, making mistakes, but doing everything she can to care for herself and the younger children and a cute guinea pig.” Stephanie Tournas, Youth Services Book Review
“The writing was so well done…fun and fresh, and exciting.” The Pages In Between
“Though set in the Pacific Northwest this tense tale of post-earthquake survival is equally relevant to other areas where natural disasters are a constant threat, and may encourage middle grade readers to think and find out about their family and school disaster plans.” Bibliobrit
“This one is a definite must-read, must-have.” Mom Read It
“It’s The Babysitter’s Club meets Hatchet! Enough said.” Miss Print
Check out the amazing emergency kit video from Bookstagrammer @RidaPageTurner!
“Suspenseful reading for students and adults alike!” Ms_D_Reads
“I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down.” The Librarian Is On the Loose
Last week, I visited four great schools in New Jersey (Bloomfield Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, Byram Township Intermediate School, and Fredon Township School) to talk to young readers and writers about The Disaster Days and how I research the real (and really fascinating) facts in all my books. One of the best parts of being an author is connecting with kids, sharing about the publishing process with them, and hearing their great questions!
Trade reviews for The Disaster Days have kept rolling in, and I’m excited to share what these critics have to say about Hannah’s story:
“Behrens’s natural disaster–themed epic portrays a young person’s grace under pressure. . . . Her extraordinary resourcefulness and courage in deadly situations highlight her burgeoning maturity. Behrens (When Audrey Met Alice) uses immersive details and situations effectively viewed from Hannah’s perspective to create a suspenseful, vivid story filled with lessons about responsibility and overcoming adversity.” —Publishers Weekly
“After reading Behrens’s informative, riveting portrayal of earthquakes and their aftermath, readers may learn how to respond in a similar situation. VERDICT A realistic, engrossing survival story that’s perfect for aspiring babysitters and fans of John Macfarlane’s Stormstruck!, Sherry Shahan’s Ice Island, or Wesley King’s A World Below.”—Kaetlyn Phillips, Yorkton, Sask., School Library Journal
“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
“The strength of this steadily paced novel that stretches over four days of a scary disaster scenario is that Hannah doesn’t figure everything out; she stumbles, doubts, and struggles throughout it all” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books