Fifth grade almost done,
cramming for junior high entrance exams,
wait… what’s happening under our feet?!
Buildings and trains and children in Japan are well-prepared for earthquakes because small tremors happen all the time.
But on March 11, 2010, the earth shook and shook, halting choir practice for 11-year-old Maya and her classmates, sending them home with worried parents and grandparents.
Maya’s American mother works from home, her great-grandparents are next door, best friend Yuka lives just down the lane.
The epicenter was far away in Japan’s north, followed by a massive tsunami that struck a nuclear electricity plant – oh, the devastation! Maya is heart-sick, feeling dizzy even when the earth isn’t moving – what can she do to help the people of the northeast?
There are aftershocks even down here and continuing worries about losing electricity, damage to railroads, having enough drinking water. Father finally reaches them after walking 20 miles from his office in Tokyo!
Maya’s mother begins organizing relief efforts for the northeast, working on her computer at home under the big table during tremors.
She shows Maya the paper crane project started by American students who are sending messages of support. Together, Maya and Yuka decide to fold 1000 paper cranes for hope, like Sadako.
As end-of-school events are postponed again and again, Maya and Father work with Great-grandfather in the vegetable field, glad to be outdoors as summer begins, to grow food for their neighbors, to be together as tremors continue.
Will her sixth-grade year begin on time?
What if the Big Earthquake hits here?
Why is this strange cat coming into her house?
This novel in verse uses unique typesetting patterns to show Maya’s fright and confusion during the quake and its many aftershocks, large and small.
Today marks 12 years since this event – have you ever experienced an earthquake?
Book info: Beyond Me / Annie Donworth-Chikamatsu. Caitlyn Dlouhy/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020, paperback 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.