Cover image for Quake! : disaster in San Francisco, 1906
Quake! : disaster in San Francisco, 1906
Karwoski, Gail, 1949-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Atlanta, Ga. : Peachtree, [2004]

Physical Description:
153 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Tells the story of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake as seen through the eyes of Jacob, a thirteen-year-old Jewish boy who lives in a boarding house with his father and younger sister.
Reading Level:
770 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.7 6.0 78552.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.3 10 Quiz: 39007 Guided reading level: R.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"Buildings were weaving in and out and the street pitched like a stormy sea. The ground shook with such violence that Jacob thought the world was coming to an end."
It is before daybreak on April 18, 1906. Jacob Kaufman slips out of the wooden boarding house where he lives with his immigrant father and little sister Rosie, his father's harsh words still ringing in his ears.
Suddenly the ground beneath his feet begins to rumble, buildings collapse and the street splits wide open as Jacob runs to find safety from a devastating earthquake. Fires engulf the city. He returns to find his father and sister... but there is nothing left of the building but a pile of sticks. Jacob and his dog join the throng of other people searching for shelter, food, fresh water...and loved ones who are missing.
In award-winning author Gail Langer Karwoski's stirring fictional account of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, young readers will relive the drama of the actual event and its devastating aftermath, through the courageous survival of a young boy. An Author's Note at the end carefully separates fact from fiction, giving young readers a glimpse into one of the worst earthquakes in modern history.

Author Notes

GAIL LANGER KARWOSKI taught third- and fourth-grade students in Watkinsville, Georgia, for several years. She received her B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and her M.A. from the University of Minnesota, later earning her elementary and gifted teaching certificates at the University of Georgia.

ROBERT PAPP has produced hundreds of award-winning illustrations for books from many different publishers, from romance novels to young adult books. He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Lisa, who is also an artist.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. It is 1906, and 13-year-old Jacob Kaufman, who lives in San Francisco with his father and little sister, is outside when a major earthquake shakes the city, cracking streets and toppling buildings. After Jacob and his dog save the life of San, a Chinese boy, the two join together to search for their families and for food and temporary shelter. Though San occasionally faces racial hostility, the boys meet many strangers who help them through the difficult days. In the appended author's note, Karwoski discusses the earthquake, the events and social changes that followed. What actually happened is reflected in the story, which emphasizes the communication and sharing that took place as different groups--the Jews, the Irish, and the Italians--found common bonds in coping with disaster. Prejudice against the Chinese, however, was more resistant to change. Karwoski's research is apparent in the many vivid details of life after the earthquake, but readers will be less concerned with social issues than with the developing stories of the sympathetic characters. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2004 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Karwoski's novel conveys very capably the fear, disorientation, and shock of living through a major disaster and coping with the aftermath. On occasion the novel's tone seems more like that of historical novels of a few decades ago, but the protagonist is appealingly unvarnished, alternately sweet and angry, open-eyed both to the destruction at large and the smaller scale unhappiness at home since his mother's death. Jacob's latest argument with his father, over a stray dog he wants to keep, results in him leaving home early the morning of the quake and being separated from his family when disaster strikes. Jacob has the unsettling experience of finding a friend's grandmother dead in the city's ruins, but also-thanks to the dog's heightened senses-the opportunity to save the life of San, a Chinese boy who becomes his fast friend. Jacob, already personally familiar with anti-Semitism, sees through San's eyes how badly the Chinese immigrants are treated. On the other hand, the boys also take part in the community created by the tent cities, in which people who might otherwise never have met begin to live and work together. The hoped-for happy ending materializes, but not before Jacob entertains the strong possibility that he may have to live with San's family if his own cannot be found or-worse-is dead. He also learns that he should not let disagreements stand between him and his loved ones. Quake! combines disaster and family longing for a sturdily constructed and affecting look at the past.-Coop Renner, Fairmeadows Elementary, Duncanville, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.