Escaping the Giant Wave – Peg Kehret

escaping the giant waveReading level: 4.3
Lexile: 750
Genre: Adventure, realistic fiction
ELL-Friendly: Yes
Library recommendation: Middle school

Goodreads summary:

Thirteen-year-old Kyle thought spending a vacation on the Oregon coast with his family would be great. Kyle’s perfect vacation becomes a nightmare while he’s babysitting his sister, BeeBee. An earthquake hits the coast and starts a fire in their hotel. Can Kyle and BeeBee outwit and outrun nature’s fury to save themselves from tsunami terror?

One of my 6th graders recommended that I read this book, which she and others LOVED, so I checked it out from the library. I had really high hopes since the kiddos raved about it, but I was disappointed. But first, the good.

The plot is intense. It is also creepily realistic and hits home, especially since I live on the Washington coast. I probably won’t look at tsunamis and earthquakes the same way. Kyle is a nice character and is a good amount of kind 6th grader trying to be responsible and typical pre-teen boy who loves wheelies and pizza. Beebee is adorable, and I am pretty fascinated by how much she loves finance.

If you read this blog at all regularly, you’ll know I’m a big fan of bullies turning good/being able to see the good in bullies. We don’t necessarily see any redemption from the bully, but he does turn himself around a little bit. Ironically, he had to be told off before showing any sort of compassion. So not only does the book bring to light what might happen in a legitimate natural disaster, but it makes the reader think about the importance of standing up to bullies without being a bully oneself.

I thought the writing was…a little off. For example, Kyle, who’s about 11, uses words and knows bits of information that typical 6th graders don’t know. Kyle sees a little too good for me, and a little too smart. Has this kid no faults besides nagging his parents for more allowance?

The action is intense, yes, but I would have been MUCH more interested if the title of the book didn’t highlight half of the adventure: escaping the giant wave.

With Hatchet, Brian becomes a different person after his adventure. I mean, there is character development. I didn’t see any of that with Kyle. The characters are sure cute but so flat.

It’s definitely ELL-friendly, and the whole book is fast-paced and (sort of) exciting. Kids love it. But honestly, I would have looked over it if my students hadn’t recommended it.

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