January 18, 2019

Protect Your Head

Every few years, we Angelenos are reminded that this is Earthquake Country. Then, before the last FEMA check is cashed, we forget.

But not Hannah Givon. Givon moved to Los Angeles from Waterbury, Conn., with her two young children shortly before the 1971 Sylmar quake. That shook her up, but even more shocking was what she discovered in the tremor’s aftermath: a near-total dearth of children’s books about earthquakes. Helping children understand and talk about temblors, she reasoned, would go a long way toward calming their pre-quake anxieties and post-quake fear. Giving them simple safety information about what to do just in case might even save lives.

So Givon wrote, “We Shake In A Quake” (Tricycle Press, $12.95). Though the thoughts behind the book were right and earnest, the brief, colorful children’s book is that and more. It is thoroughly witty, engaging and enjoyable. Featuring bright, post-Seussian drawings by David Uttal, the book follows the adventures of one plucky boy as he rides out one quake and prepares for another. The drawings and sneaky rhymes make all the solid info on earthquake preparedness go down like grape Dimetapp. There are even a couple of stanzas on plate tectonics that stayed with us a lot longer than our Geology 101 lessons: “But now and then these giant plates/May give a sudden shove/Which bumps and shakes and bounces/Whatever is above…”

April is Earthquake Awareness Month, and this book should be on the To Buy list of anyone with young children. (It would also make a swell public-service cartoon, if anyone’s interested.)

Givon, whose grown children now live in Israel, travels to classrooms, synagogues, corporations and safety fairs to read her book and speak with children about earthquake safety. — Rob Eshman, Managing Editor