January 2nd 2018
From Cooper Haas to my friends at the blog,
Recently, I finished reading the 83 page book named I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis. Tarshis writes all sorts of “I Survived” books that I read when I was younger. Lauren Tarshis also won the Golden Kite award for fiction books. Her books are found in many libraries around the world and enjoyed by both kids and adults. Additionally, Tarshis is a storywriter for a newspaper company. Even though she writes in an easy to understand, simple format, I like the way the author’s stories describe historical, real life situations that are both terrifying and fascinating.
I decided to read this book again for a couple of reasons. First, after school, homework, and playing rigorous games of tennis and basketball, I look forward to easy, short books that allow me to relax and simply enjoy the content of the story. I also thought that this story sounded very interesting to read again especially after the many natural disasters that have occurred recently. I think this book relates to what is going on in our world very well, namely, the most recent devastating storm Hurricane Irma. I was so young when I read the story the first time that I don’t remember much of the detail or emotional impact it had on me, all I remember is thinking that the Tsunami was very scary.
This time reading Tarshis’ book was different. I once again enjoyed this book, but the main character Ben really stood out to me. He stood out to me both for his bravery and, most importantly, for the way he changed during the book. I think the themes of bravery and change help make this book interesting to read. Ben’s father died a few months’ before the story begins; during the book, Ben and his family visit his father’s hometown, a small village in Japan called Shogahama. After his father’s tragic death, Ben couldn’t control his emotions or his sadness because he kept thinking of his dad. Instead of experiencing his emotions, Ben decided to block them out. The author illustrates Ben’s inability to confront his feelings in a passage on page 16. “It wasn’t easy. He’d given up basketball, even quitting the travel team he’d worked so hard to make. Hoops had been their game – Ben and Dad’s. After the accident, just the sound of a bouncing ball would hit Ben in the chest like a bullet”. This quote shows that Ben stopped finding joy in the things he loved the most because they reminded him of his Dad.
Soon after Ben, his mom, and his little brother Harry arrive in Japan to visit Ben and Harry’s uncle named Ojjsan, unexpected tragedy strikes. First, Japan is hit with an earthquake, and almost immediately after, a Tsunami strikes. The water is rising higher and higher. Ben and his family do not know what to do as the water is overtaking them. Ben has to think fast. His natural instinct is to grab the cat and his whole family gets into their car. It turns out climbing into the car was not such a good idea since the car becomes submerged in the water. Luckily, everyone makes it out of the car, but then a gigantic wave separates the family. Will Ben find his family, will they survive? I won’t ruin the story for you; you will have to read it for yourself to find out.
Even though I won’t tell you what happens, I will say that I was happy and surprised by the way Ben demonstrates immense bravery. Ben even channels the memories of his father to help him survive during the Tsunami. At one point when Ben is stuck in the storm, tired, cold and all cut up, he wants to give up “ he wanted to curl up in the mud. Yes, that’s what he needed to do. Close his eyes. Forget all this,” (58). All of a sudden, thoughts of his father flash into Ben’s mind. He remembers what his dad told him about times he had to survive during a war in Afghanistan. while he was in the United States Air Force.
It’s through memories of his dad’s bravery that Ben is able to be brave himself. Interestingly it’s also through these memories that Ben is able to change. Ben was not able to think of his dad after he died because it was too painful. As the book goes on, Ben learns that he can use memories of his Dad’s bravery to help him be brave himself in order to get through difficult situations like a Tsunami and even to face his fathers death. It’s for these reasons that I give this book a 10/10. I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011 is a quick, easy, read that teaches people of all ages about bravery and healing.
Cooper Haas – who hopes he never experiences a Tsunami!