Meet Hannah Steele, Navigator of Earthquakes Big and Small


Hannah Steele (13) wasn't having a great day. She missed the bus, her Mom had to drive her to school (and she was still almost late), she forgot her asthma inhaler, and her BFF Neha was distracted about soccer and her new friends. After school, Hannah went to the Matlocks to babysit Zoe and Oscar. This was only her second time babysitting, so she was both excited and nervous.

While Zoe practiced her recorder and Oscar played video games, Hannah texted Neha about the school project they were supposed to be working on. The messages turned personal, and just after Hannah hit "send" to end their friendship, another disaster struck. A huge earthquake. The initial land shift and subsequent aftershocks moved furniture, broke windows, blocked stairs, emptied cabinets onto the floor, and damaged gas pipes throughout the house.

Hannah and her charges were now on their own, stranded on Pelling Island, with no electricity, water, safe places to rest, or chance of rescue for the foreseeable future. With no "google" to answer her questions and no inhaler to help her breath, Hannah must rely on her babysitting training (which didn't include earthquakes!)  and her instincts to keep the three of them fed, hydrated, and safe for who knows how long. Can they make it?

Parent Perspective:
This fast-moving story is more than an earthquake adventure. Other "disasters" were personal, but to Hannah they were just as jolting: changes in her friendship with Neha and regretting things she'd said to her parents. The aftermath of the earthquake really allowed readers to focus on Hannah's emotional ups and downs of growing up. Teens/Preteens don't have to have "earthquake experience" to connect with her.

Girls are more likely to pick up the book, but it has great general appeal. Highly recommended as a must-read for new babysitters. There is a lot of detail they can pull out for creating their own preparedness notebooks. Hannah and Zoe create a notebook, and I wish the author had pulled together some of that content in the back instead of a link to her website (which is a set of more links).

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

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.

Content Awareness Factors:


Type of Book:
This is a first-person story about a young girl navigating friendship, family, and growing up in the middle of a natural disaster.
Educational Themes:

The story balances two themes: surviving a natural disaster and trying to figure out the mixed emotions of growing up. In addition to trying to figure out her relationship with her parents, she also struggles with jealousy and her BFF Neha. The story offers plenty to talk about on multiple levels.

Although the story itself is fictional, the information about earthquakes and the Cascadia Subduction Zone ( are factual. The author includes a list of resources on her website.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
13 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
12 and Up
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow. If you know someone who is a babysitter, consider for purchase. She might find this story to be a guide to being a better sitter.

Title The Disaster Days
Author Rebecca Behrens
Publisher Sourcebooks for Young Readers © 2019
ISBN 9781492673316
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.99
Genres Adventure, Family, Growing Up
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