Theme Connections Nature's Fury



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Theme 1

Nature's Fury

Now the house of wind is thundering. Now the house of wind is thundering. As I go roaring over the land, the land is covered in thunder.

-from "Wind Song" (Pima)

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Theme Connections

Nature's Fury


with Warren Faidley

Are you ready to face nature at its most explosive? Start with a letter that just blew in from storm chaser Warren Faidley!

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Dear Reader,

I chase storms - anywhere, anytime.

I pursue tornadoes, lightning, hurricanes and other natural disasters. I capture the events on film and video.

In this theme you'll get a taste of my adventures on the job. You'll also encounter other examples of nature's power, from earthquakes to blizzards.

One of the biggest storms I have chased was Hurricane Andrew in August of 1992. Andrew hit South Florida with winds of over 160 miles per hour.

It was both exciting and frightening to be in the middle of a "category 5" storm, the' biggest of all hurricanes.

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I had to be very careful. The rain hit so hard it stung. Large trees were uprooted and debris flew through the air.



Huge waves crashed inland, bringing boats and wreckage toward me.

I had to use all of my experiences as a storm chaser to survive. I wore safety glasses to protect my eyes, and I kept my camera equip­ment in waterproof cases.

When the storm passed I was safe. I was also a little tired and wet.

You won't have to worry about the wind and rain as you read the selections in this theme. Just enjoy the forces of nature on display!

Sincerely yours,

Warren Faidley

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Theme Connections

Step Into the Storm


As a storm chaser, Warren Faidley chooses to go out into tornadoes and hurricanes. Have you ever been caught in a storm or in some other example of nature gone wild? Think about that experience as you read the selections in this theme, which are shown below. Try putting yourself into the different situations in the selec­tions. Sometimes the storm you read about can be as exciting as the storm you were in!

Internet

To learn about the authors in this theme, visit Education Place. www.eduplace.com/kids

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Get Ready to Read

Background and Vocabulary

Earthquake Terror

Read to find the meanings of these words.



Glossary

devastation

earthquake

fault jolt

undulating

upheaval 

Buildup to a Shakeup

What forces cause the earthquake in Earthquake Terror? The answer lies deep underground.

Pressure Builds

Pressure has been building along a deep crack in the earth's crust, the San Andreas Fault in California. The rock on one side of the fault is pushing against the rock on the other side, until ...

Earthquake! Too much pressure! The rock on each side of the fault slips with a jolt . All that released energy causes the ground to go undulating for miles. The upheaval may cause terrible devastation to anything standing.

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The San Andreas Fault runs from southern California to just north of San Francisco. The author puts Magpie Island, the fictional setting of Earthquake Terror, in its path.



A road in California's Santa Cruz Mountains, south of San Francisco, shows extensive damage from the "World Series Earthquake" that struck part of the San Andreas Fault in October, 1989.

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Selection 1



Earthquake Terror

by Peg Kehret

Strategy Focus

Think about the selection title and cover illustration. What do you predict Jonathan will do to protect himself and his younger sister when a powerful earthquake strikes?



A family vacation begins peacefully in the woods of Magpie Island. Then Jonathan and Abby's mom breaks her ankle, and their dad has to rush her to the hospital. He promises to return in three hours, leaving Jonathan, age twelve, in charge of his six-­year-old sister, whose legs are partially paralyzed. Moose, the family's dog, is with them. But Jonathan is uneasy.

In his mind, Jonathan could see his father unhitching the small camping trailer. He pictured the car going along the narrow, winding road that meandered from the campground through the woods. He saw the high bridge that crossed the river, connecting the island campground to the mainland.

He imagined his father driving across the bridge, faster than usual, with Mom lying down in the back seat. Or maybe she wouldn't lie down. Maybe, even with a broken ankle, she would wear her seat belt. She always did, and she insisted that Jonathan and Abby wear theirs.

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Moose cocked his head, as if listening to something. Then he ran toward the trail, sniffing the ground.



"Moose," Jonathan called. "Come back." Moose paused, looked at Jonathan, and barked. "Come!"

Moose returned but he continued to smell the ground and pace back and forth.

"Moose wants Mommy," Abby said.

Moose suddenly stood still, his legs stiff and his tail up. He barked again.

"Silly old dog," Abby said.

He knows something is wrong, Jonathan thought. Dogs sense things. He knows I'm worried about Mom. Jonathan patted Moose's head. "It's all right, Moose. Good dog."

Moose barked again.

"I'm hot," Abby said. "It's too hot to eat."

"Let's start back. It'll be cooler in the shade and we can finish our lunch in the camper."

Maybe he could relax in the camper. Here he felt jumpy. He didn't like being totally out of communication with the rest of the world. Whenever he stayed alone at home, or took care of Abby, there was always a telephone at his fingertips or a neighbor just down the street. If he had a problem, he could call his parents or Mrs. Smith next door or even nine-one-one.

Here he was isolated. I wouldn't do well as a forest ranger, Jonathan thought. How do they stand being alone in the woods all the time?

He rewrapped the uneaten food, buckled the backpack over his shoulders, and put the leash on Moose. The goofy way Moose was acting, he might bolt down the trail and not come back.

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Jonathan helped Abby stand up and placed her walker in position. Slowly, they began the journey across the sand and into the woods, to follow the trail through the trees.



Jonathan wished he had worn a watch. It seemed as if his parents had been gone long enough to get partway to town, but it was hard to be sure. Time had a way of evaporating instantly when he was engrossed in an interesting project, such as cataloging his baseball cards, or reading a good mystery. But time dragged unbearably when he was in the dentist's office or waiting for a ride. It was hard to estimate how much time had passed since his parents waved good-bye and walked away. Forty minutes? An hour?

Abby walked in front of him. That way he could see her and know if she needed help, and it kept him from going too fast. When he was in the lead, he usually got too far ahead, even when he tried to walk slowly.

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While they walked Jonathan planned what he would do when they got back to the camper. As soon as he got Abby settled on her bed, he would turn on the radio and listen to the ball game. That would give him something to think about. The San Francisco Giants were his favorite baseball team and he hoped they would win the World Series.



Jonathan noticed again how quiet it was. No magpies cawed, no leaves rustled overhead. The air was stifling, with no hint of breeze. Moose barked. Jonathan jumped at the sudden noise. It was Moose's warning bark, the one he used when a stranger knocked on the door. He stood beside Jonathan and barked again. The dog's eyes had a frantic look. He was shaking, the way he always did during a thunderstorm.

"What's wrong, boy?" Jonathan asked. He reached out to pet Moose but the dog tugged toward Abby and barked at her. "Hush, Moose," Abby said.

Jonathan looked in all directions. He saw nothing unusual. There were still no people and no animals that would startle Moose and set him off. Jonathan listened hard, wondering if Moose had heard something that Jonathan couldn't hear.

Abby stopped walking. "What was that?" she said. "What was what?"

Jonathan listened. He heard a deep rumbling sound in the distance.

Thunder? He looked up. The sky was bright and cloudless. The noise came closer; it was too sharp to be thunder. It was more like several rifles being fired at the same time.

Hunters! he thought. There are hunters in the woods and they heard us move and they've mistaken us for deer or pheasant. Moose must have seen them or heard them or possibly smelled them.

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"Don't shoot!" he cried.



As he yelled, Jonathan felt a jolt. He stumbled forward, thrusting an arm out to brace himself against a tree. Another loud noise exploded as Jonathan lurched sideways.

He dropped the leash. Abby screamed.

A bomb? Jonathan thought. Who would bomb a deserted campground?

The noise continued, and the earth moved beneath his feet. As he felt himself lifted, he knew that the sound was not hunters with guns. It was not a bomb, either.

Earthquake! The word flashed across his brain as if he had seen it blazing on a neon sign.

He felt as if he were on a surfboard, catching a giant wave, rising, cresting, and sliding back down again. Except he was standing on dry land.

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"Jonathan!" Abby's scream was lost in the thunderous noise. He saw her fall, her walker flying off to one side as she went down. Jonathan lunged forward, arms outstretched, trying to catch Abby before she hit the ground. He couldn't get there fast enough.



The ground dropped away beneath his feet as if a trapdoor had opened. His legs buckled and he sank to his knees. He reached for a tree trunk, to steady himself, but before his hand touched it, the tree moved.

Jonathan's stomach rose into his throat, the way it sometimes did on a fast elevator.

Ever since first grade, when the Palmers moved to California, Jonathan had practiced earthquake drills in school each year. He knew that most earthquakes occur along the shores of the Pacific Ocean. He knew that the San Andreas fault runs north and south for hundreds of miles in California, making that land particularly susceptible to earthquakes. He knew that if an earthquake hit while he was in school, he was supposed to crawl under his desk or under a table because injury was most likely to be caused by the roof caving in on him.

That was school. This was Magpie Island. How should he protect himself in the woods? Where could he hide?

He struggled to his feet again. Ahead of him, Abby lay whimpering on the ground. Moose stood beside her, his head low. "Put your hands over your head," Jonathan called.

The ground shook again, and Jonathan struggled to remain on his feet.

"I'm coming," he shouted. "Stay where you are. I'm coming! " But he did not go to her. He couldn't.

He staggered sideways, unable to keep his balance. He felt as if he were riding a roller coaster standing up, except the ground rocked back and forth at the same time that it rolled up and down.

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A clump of small birch trees swayed like dancers and then fell. The rumbling noise continued, surrounding him, coming from every direction at once. It was like standing in the center of a huge orchestra, with kettle drums pounding on all sides.



Abby's screams and Moose's barking blended with the noise. Although there was no roof to cave in on him, Jonathan put his arms over his head as he fell. The school's earthquake drills had taught him to protect his head and he did it the only way he could. Earthquake.

He had never felt an earthquake before and he had always wondered how it would feel. He had questioned his teacher, that first year. "How will I know it's an earthquake?" he asked. "If it's a big one," the teacher said, "you'll know."

His teacher had been right. Jonathan knew. He knew with a certainty that made the hair rise on the back of his neck. He was in the middle of an earthquake now. A big one.

The ground heaved, pitching Jonathan into the air.

Jonathan hit the ground hard, jarring every bone in his body. Immediately, the earth below him moved, tossing him into the air again.

As he dropped back down, he saw the trunk of a giant redwood tree tremble. The huge tree swayed back and forth for a few moments and then tilted toward Jonathan.

Frantically, he crawled to his left, rushing to get out of the tree's path.

The roots ripped loose slowly, as if not wanting to relinquish their century-long hold on the dirt.

As Jonathan scrambled across the unsteady ground, he clenched his teeth, bracing himself for the impact.

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The tree fell. Air whizzed across Jonathan as the tree trunk dropped past, and branches brushed his shoulder, scratching his arms. The redwood crashed beside him, missing him by only a few feet. It thudded down, landing at an angle on another fallen tree. Dirt and dry leaves whooshed into the air, and then settled slowly back down. The earth shuddered, but Jonathan didn't know if it was from the impact of the tree or another jolt from the earthquake.



With his heart in his throat, Jonathan crept away from the redwood tree, toward Abby. Beneath him, the ground swelled and retreated, like ocean waves. Twice he sprawled facedown in the dirt, unable to keep his balance. The second time, he lay still, with his eyes closed. How much longer would this go on? Maybe he should just lie there and wait until this earthquake was over.

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"Mommy!" Abby's shrill cry rose above the thundering noise. Jonathan struggled toward her again, his heart racing. When he finally reached her, he lay beside her and wrapped his arms around her. She clung to him, sobbing.



"We'll be okay," he said. "It's only an earthquake."

Only an earthquake. He remembered magazine pictures of terrible devastation from earthquakes: homes toppled, highways buckled, cars tossed upside down, and people crushed in debris. Only an earthquake.

"We have to get under shelter," he said. "Try to crawl with me." Keeping one arm around Abby's waist, he got to his hands and knees and began crawling forward on the undulating ground.

"I can't!" Abby cried. "I'm scared. The ground is moving." Jonathan tightened his grip, dragging her across the ground. A small tree crashed beside them. Dust rose, filling their noses.

"I want Mommy! " Abby shrieked.

He pulled her to the trunk of the huge redwood tree that had uprooted.

"Get under the tree," he said, as he pushed her into the angle of space that was created because the center of the redwood's trunk rested on the other tree.

When Abby was completely under the tree, Jonathan lay on his stomach beside her, with his right arm tucked beneath his stomach and his left arm thrown across Abby. He pulled himself in as close as he could so that both he and Abby were wedged in the space under the big tree.

"What's happening?" Abby sobbed. Her fingernails dug into Jonathan's bare arm.

"It's an earthquake."

"I want to go home." Abby tried to push Jonathan away. "Lie still," Jonathan said. "The tree will protect us."

38

 



The dry forest floor scratched his cheek as he inhaled the pungent scent of dead leaves. He felt dwarfed by the enormous redwood and tried not to imagine what would have happened if it had landed on him. "Moose!" he called. "Come, Moose."

Beneath him, the ground trembled again. Jonathan tightened his grip on Abby and pushed his face close to hers. A sharp crack rang out beside them as another tree hit the ground. Jonathan turned his head enough to peer out; he saw the redwood branches quivering from the impact.

What if the earthquake caused the redwood to move again? What if it slipped off the tree it rested on and crushed them beneath it? Anxiety tied a tight knot in Jonathan's stomach.

The earth shuddered once more. Abby buried her face in Jonathan's shoulder. His shirt grew wet from her tears. The jolt did not seem as severe this time, but Jonathan thought that might be because he was lying down.

Moose, panting with fear, huddled beside Jonathan, pawing at Jonathan's shoulder. Relieved that the dog had not been injured, Jonathan put his right arm around Moose and held him close.

As suddenly as it had begun, the upheaval stopped. Jonathan was unsure how long it had lasted. Five minutes? Ten? While it was happening, time seemed suspended and Jonathan had thought the shaking might go on for days.

The woods were quiet.

He lay motionless, one arm around Abby and the other around Moose, waiting to see if it was really over. The air was completely still. After the roar of the earthquake, the silence seemed both comforting and ominous.

Earlier, even though there were no other people in the area, he'd heard the magpies cawing, and a squirrel had complained when Jonathan tossed a rock.

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Now he heard nothing. No birds. No squirrels. Not even wind in the leaves.



He wondered if his parents had felt the quake. Sometimes, he knew, earthquakes were confined to fairly small areas.

Once Grandma Whitney had called them from Iowa. She had seen news reports of a violent California earthquake less than one hundred miles from where the Palmers lived.

"Are you all right?" Grandma cried, when Mrs. Palmer answered the phone. "Was anyone hurt?"

Grandma had been astonished when none of the Palmers knew anything about an earthquake.

After several minutes of quiet, Jonathan eased out from under the tree. He sat up and looked around. Moose, still trembling, licked his hand.

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Jonathan put his cheek on the dog's neck and rubbed his ears. He had chosen Moose at the animal shelter, more than six years ago. The Palmers had planned to get a small dog but the moment Jonathan saw the big golden retriever, who was then one year old, he knew which dog he wanted.



Mrs. Palmer had said, "He's too big to be a house dog." Mr. Palmer said, "I think he's half moose."

Jonathan laughed and said, "That's what I'll name him. Moose." His parents tried unsuccessfully to interest Jonathan in one of the other, smaller dogs, before they gave in and brought Moose home. Despite his size, Moose was a house dog from the start, and he slept beside Jonathan's bed every night. They played fetch, and their own version of tag, and Jonathan took Moose for long walks in the county park. In the summer, they swam whenever they had a chance.

When Abby had her accident and Jonathan's parents focused so much of their attention on her, Moose was Jonathan's comfort and companion.

Now, in the devastation of the earthquake, Jonathan again found comfort in the dog's presence. He let go of Moose and looked around. "Wow!" he said, trying to keep his voice steady. "That was some earthquake."

"Is it over?" Abby's voice was thin and high. "I think so."

He grasped Abby's hand and pulled her out from under the tree. She sat up, apparently uninjured, and began picking leaves out of her hair.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"My knee is cut." She touched one knee and her voice rose. "It's bleeding," she said, her lip trembling. "You pushed me under the tree too hard."

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Jonathan examined her knee. It was a minor cut. He knew that if he made a fuss over it, Abby would cry. He had seen it happen before; if his mother showed concern about a small injury, Abby got



practically hysterical, but if Mom acted like it was no big deal, Abby relaxed, too. It was as if she didn't know whether she hurt or not until she saw how her parents reacted.

"It's all right," he said. "If that tiny little scrape is all you got, you are lucky, and so am I. We could have been killed."

"We could?" Abby's eyes grew round.

Quickly Jonathan said, "But we weren't, and the earthquake is over now."

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Meet the Author Peg Kehret



Favorite outfit: Jeans and sweatshirt

Favorite dish: Spaghetti

When not writing: Reads, plays her player piano, bakes bread, volunteers at The Humane Society

Home: An eighty-year-old house in the state of Washington with apple and pear trees, blueberry and blackberry bushes, and a big vegetable garden

Popularity: Kehret has won children's choice awards in fifteen states. Twice a year she and her husband travel across the country in their motor home so that she can speak in schools and meet her readers.

More Kehret books: Volcano Disaster, Blizzard Disaster, Nightmare Mountain, The Richest Kids in Town, Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays

Meet the Illustrator Phil Boatwright



Lone Star boyhood: Boatwright grew up in Mesquite, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

Favorite children's book: Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Favorite illustrators: Gennady Spirin, Jerry Pinkney, John Collier, and N. C. Wyeth.

Tips for success: "You have to love to draw, take all the art classes possible, read all the art books available, and study the artists you admire."

Internet

For more information about Peg Kehret and Phil Boatwright, visit Education Place. www.eduplace. com/kids

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Responding



Think About the Selection

1.      How does the author create suspense before the earthquake hits? Find examples from the story.

2.      Summarize what Jonathan does to protect himself and Abby from the ^ earthquake.

3.      Sometimes the author interrupts the action with events that happened earlier. Do you think this adds to the story? Why or why not?

4.      What did you learn about the fault that runs through the island?

5.      How would you describe Jonathan's relationship with his sister? Give examples from the selection that show how they feel about each other.

6.      Jonathan thinks about how time goes fast when he's excited or interested, and slowly when he's not. Give examples of that from your own life.

7.      Connecting/Comparing Do you think Earthquake Terror is a good way to begin a theme called Nature's Fury? Why or why not?

Narrating

Write an Adventure Story

Use what you learned about Jonathan and Abby in Earthquake Terror to write an adventure story with them as char­acters. Your story can tell how they escape from another natural disaster, such as a fire, a flood, or a storm.

Tips

·      Begin by thinking about the problem the characters face and write down details.

·      Show how the characters feel.

·      Include details of the setting.

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Health and Safety



Demonstrate Earthquake Safety

On pages 35 and 36 of the selection, Jonathan remembers what he learned in school about earthquake safety. Use that information to demonstrate for classmates what to do in case an earthquake strikes.

Listening and Speaking

Deliver a Newscast

With a partner, present a newscast about the earthquake on Magpie Island. You might wish to take on the roles of a television anchorper­son and an on-the-scene reporter. Use infor­mation from the selection to give details.

Tips

·      Plan the order in which you will present your information.

·      Write notes on cards or slips of paper.

·      Use exact details.


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