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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

From National Book Award-winning author Judy Blundell, a thrilling account of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. When Minnie Bonner's father disappears after losing the Bonners' Philadelphia tavern, the wealthy gentleman Edward Sump, led by his avaricious wife, offers Minnie a chance to work as a lady's maid to support her family. The Sumps have grand plans, grander than the city of Philadelphia can offer, however, and decide to move to San Francisco -- the greatest city in the west. But when a powerful earthquake strikes, Minnie finds herself the sole survivor among them. After the dust settles, Minnie discovers a bag belonging to the Sumps filled with cash and papers that could drastically change her fortune. With no one else to claim it, Minnie has turned into an heiress overnight. Wealth comes at a price, though, and she is soon wrapped up in a deception that leads her down a dangerous path. As the aftermath of the earthquake ravages the city, Minnie continues to maintai…

Overall Book Review:

Scholastic’s Dear America series is an excellent means to expose kids to important events in American history. With over forty books to choose from, each written by a well-known author, young readers will be transported to different time periods. Each engaging story is written in a similar format — a diary composed by a fictitious young woman.

In Dear America: A City Tossed and Broken, Minnie Bonner recounts her survival of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Penned by Judy Blundell, 2008 National Book Award Winner, Minnie’s account is dramatic yet realistic and astounding. Minnie is a brave and tenacious heroine whose story lends itself to discussion (as the natural disaster creates several ethical and moral situations like looting, bribery, and changing one’s identity). Readers will also appreciate the black and white photos and historical notes at the end. 

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None

Violence/Gore:  Reports of people killed or trapped in collapsed buildings; a character sees bodies of the deceased (non-detailed); massive fires destroy property; three characters die in the earthquake without much detail. 

Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, natural disasters, looting, bribery, gambling.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.