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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival. Written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by David Parkins. Annick, 2014. $14.95 ages 10 and up

"Bruised and battered by the plane crash, Juliane spent one day alone in the Amazon. Then a second. And a third. Cold, wet, and plagued by biting insects, she huddled against the river's gravel banks at night, or curled against the trunk of a tree, drifting in and out of fitful sleep. During the day, the sun baked her skin until her back felt crisp. And every night, she found..
As we watched media reports concerning the plight of the people
of Fort McMurray struggling to come to terms with all that had happened since the beginning of May when the wildfires were first reported, I thought back on this book of survival stories that I recently read. It is absolutely incredible to me how people pull together to make the best of a horrific situation.

In her new book, Tanya Lloyd Kyi writes stories of events that none of us can imagine living through; they did happen, and to real people. Some of those people were children. There are four main stories, interspersed with many others.

Trying to determine what makes the difference between death and survival for those at the center of such horrendous events has been studied over many years. Friendship, moving forward through action, meeting basic needs (air, food, water and sleep), knowing some basic survival skills and staying as positive as possible prove to be invaluable when doing your best to live and then live on.

The four dramatic events include a plane crash, a capsized boat, a mine collapse, and the freezing Arctic waters where a family finds refuge on an ice floe. The author includes chapters on survival and how some people survive while others do not. We are all equipped with the same innate reactions to danger ... commonly called the 'flight or fight or freeze' response. Survival isn't easy. The many stories Ms. Kyi shares are proof positive of that.

Information boxes add interest and pertinent facts. Labelled arrows give guidance toward finding out more about a particular event. Her focus on young people overcoming tremendous odds keeps the audience intent on the stories being told. Green cartoon icons are placed next to text as a reminder of the 'keys to survival' provided at the beginning, and what might work to help. Red icons suggest avoiding those behaviors. It's not always easy to remember what to do when faced with a dangerous and rarely met plight. Being prepared can be helpful.

"As long as people continue to adventure and explore, there will always be risks. There will always be the chance that, someday, we will find ourselves in peril, and we'll need to survive."

Helpful in navigating the book are a table of contents and an index. Also included are a list for further reading and a selected source list.

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