FLOODED: REQUIEM FOR JOHNSTOWN (SCHOLASTIC GOLD), by Ann E. Burg, Scholastic Paperbacks, May 3, 2022, Paperback, $7.99 (ages 9-14)
Learn about the biggest American tragedy that most people don’t know about in Flooded: Requiem for Johnstown, by Ann E. Burg.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1889 is a busy factory city, where best friends Daniel Fagan, William James, and George Hoffman love to hike the mountain and spy on the rich folks at their exclusive lakeside club.
Monica Fagan, Joe Dixon, and Gertrude Quinn dream of traveling the world, starting a business, and going to the city’s Decoration Day parade.
Some of them have heard the rumors about the dam that holds the lake needing repairs and the club members who refuse to fix it. But no one wants to believe the danger they could be in, until the heavy spring rains come, and the dam collapses, plunging the city into chaos. On that fateful day, Daniel, William, George, Monica, Joe, and Gertrude find themselves caught in the wreckage. Who will live to tell their stories? —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Paperbacks
First released during COVID, Flooded, is a book that has flown under the radar. Now, it’s available as part of the Scholastic Gold series, which celebrates bestselling, award-winning, and critically acclaimed middle-grade paperback novels.
On May 31, 1889, more than 2,200 people were killed when the South Fork Dam collapsed. According to Flooded author Ann E. Burg, “Up until Sept. 11, 2001, it was the greatest single-incident loss of life on American soil. In less than fifteen minutes, an entire town and more than two thousand of its inhabitants perished. I thought they should be remembered. I thought they should be honored.”
That’s why Burg wanted to tell the story. And, she says, causes of the flood are indicative of issues like climate change and the gaps between rich and poor and native and immigrants are still a problem today.
Flooded is a compelling novel-in-verse that explores events leading up to, and the aftermath of, the Johnstown flood. Burg’s writing is sparse and exceptional, allowing for the pauses and phrasing to become part of the narrative.
Each chapter features one of the six people listed above. By focusing on the six, it is easier to imagine the 2,000 who died. Each voice ring loud, clear and true, adding to the emotion and strength of the book.
Flooded is a beautifully executed read that is perfect for readers ages 9-14.
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