________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 11. . . .November 14, 2014


When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival.

Tanya Lloyd Kyi. Art by David Parkins.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2014.
126 pp., trade pbk. & hc., $14.95 (pbk.), $24.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-682-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-683-4 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Survival-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Betsy Fraser.

*** /4



When British mountaineer Joe Simpson slipped on the icy slopes of Peru’s Siula Grande, he shattered his leg. His climbing partner, Simon Yates, began to lower him, rope-length after rope-length, down the mountain. Then ... another disaster. Joe slid over a ledge, dangling where he couldn’t reach the ice face. Suddenly, the climbers couldn’t see or hear one another. And Simon couldn’t haul his partner back to safety.


Tanya Lloyd Kyi introduces asks readers to consider truly horrific situations that they, themselves, would be unlikely to survive but which happened to real people. That some of these people were children when they experienced the worst thing that ever happened to them makes this a book that will have a great appeal for a wide range of readers. The author starts at the beginning by looking at what things make anyone more likely to survive a catastrophic event: finding friends, as help, whether professional or from indigenous people is a sure aid to returning home; making sure to act, as doing nothing will hasten your downfall and hurt your spirits; ‘Go Back to Basics’ to get oxygen, food, water, and sleep; Basic skills, such as starting fires, or any other knowledge should be put to use; “Keep Your Cool,” and try to stay positive; “Get Zen” which may be done by meditation or other means to keep control; and “Play Nice” as a reminder of the importance to get along if survivors are stranded together.

internal art     The book is framed around four highly dramatic incidents: a free-falling plane crash into the jungle; a capsized boat which strands a 12-year-old and his siblings on an atoll; the Chilean mine collapse that left 33 men trapped far underground for weeks; a family left floating on an ice floe in the frigid Arctic waters. These stories are interspersed with bits of information about how and why some people survive, and even thrive, during predicaments while others perish. It is this style that separates this title from guides that look at surviving as a life skill, be it from a shark or an embarrassing situation, such as Rachel Buchholz’s How to Survive Anything, or books that take a deeper look at some of the events covered in this guide but which don’t necessarily concentrate on the young people in the story. Readers captivated by Jimmy Sanchez’s struggles may be drawn to Marc Aronson’s Trapped: How the World Rescued Thirty-Three Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert, which has a much more complete look at the rescue of the miners, including a Canadian connection. This book will find a wide audience, in both public and school libraries where readers interested in history, adventure, and the outdoors will gravitate to it.


Betsy Fraser is a Selector with the Calgary Public Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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