Escaping the Giant Wave
by Peg Kehret
About the book:
Kyle thought spending a vacation on the Oregon coast with his family would be great. But one evening while babysitting his younger sister, BeeBee, the worst scenario happens- an earthquake hits. This sets off a chain of reactions that forces Kyle to be braver than he ever imagined! A fire starts in their hotel and the earthquake triggers a tsunami. The giant wave charges straight up the hillside through the woods where the kids are running for their lives.
About this guide:
This guide includes discussion questions and projects appropriate for children’s book clubs, literature circles, and classroom discussions. It is intended to provoke thought and insight into the themes of this book which include bullying, survival, sibling relationships, peer pressure, decision-making and fear.
1. Mrs. Hoke asks her class to create goals for the summer but she doesn’t force them to share them with anyone. Why? What are Kyle’s goals? Write down three goals you have for yourself. Would you be willing to share them with anyone? Whom?
2. Describe Daren Hazelton. What is the history between Daren and Kyle? Why do you think some kids get away with being bullies? What is the best way to deal with a bully at school? Can bullies change?
3. How is BeeBee not your typical eight-year-old? How do Kyle and BeeBee get along? Would you want to babysit her? Why or why not? What rules does Kyle put in place for babysitting?
4. What is the reason for the trip to Oregon? Where will the Davidson’s stay? Is this a typical vacation for them? How is it not what they expected? Have you ever taken a vacation with your own family?
5. What threatens Kyle’s enjoyment of the whole vacation? What would you do in his shoes? Why hasn’t Kyle told his parents the truth about Daren?
6. How does BeeBee give Kyle a scare while he’s watching her in the hotel? What was he worried about? Do you think Kyle is a good babysitter? Why?
7. Kyle is forced to make a series of important decisions. Which one is most critical? Why? What are the steps in making a serious decision? What does Daren decide to do?
8. What do you think of the coastal town’s warning system for tidal waves? Why don’t some people take it seriously? Have you seen this type of attitude repeated in the news? In light of the Asian tsunami and the devastation in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, do you think people’s actions will change?
9. What steps do the kids take to survive the 2nd wave? What warning do they have that something is coming? What do they make to save Pansy too? What prevents them from dehydrating?
10. What was the most interesting thing you learned while reading this novel? Do you think novels can sometimes be more valuable for teaching facts than a straight non-fiction narrative? Why?
11. Even after Kyle saves Daren it does not change his behavior toward him. What gives Kyle the courage to stand up to Daren? What realization does he make about himself? What information does Kyle threaten Daren with for next year at school?
12. How did Norm, Josie and Pansy help the children survive? What happened to each of them? What gave Norman strength to continue on?
13. Mr. and Mrs. Davidson are out on the Elegant Empress. How do they learn about what has happened on shore? How are they reunited? Do you think they’ll let Kyle baby-sit again? Why?
14. How do you think BeeBee will be changed by the events in the story? Predict what she’ll be doing in five years.
15. How did your understanding of tsunamis change? What images will stick with you after closing the last page of this novel? Why do some books stay with you while others are forgotten? What will you remember most about this book?
We learn about characters by their actions, their words, and their relationships with others. Fill out the following chart on the characters from Escaping the Giant Wave.
Mr. & Mrs. Davidson
Norm & Josie
Fill out this KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learned) graph before you begin your self-directed research on tsunamis or earthquakes. Be sure to fill out the KNOW section before you begin your project as this helps you access all the information you know and will help your comprehension of new material. After researching the answers to your compelling questions, create a poster, graph, or other visual that shows what you learned on the topic and share!
KWL Chart on Tsunamis or Earthquakes
What I already KNOW
What I WANT to know
What I LEARNED:
Create a three-dimensional model of the setting of the novel. Extra points if you can show the scale of the waves in relationship to the buildings!
Find a piece of CLASSICAL music that would be used to accompany one of the scenes from the film. Write a brief journal explaining your choice. How does the music capture the mood of the scene? How does it add drama or fear?
Research a natural disaster that had a major impact on history. Find out the five journalist questions about your topic: the who, what, when, where and why and how of the event. Consider volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes,
Dangerous Planet: Natural Disasters That Changed History
by Bryn Barnard
Great jump off point to other links on this topic
ALSC compiled books to help kids deal with natural disasters
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on tsunamis