Series: Survivor Diaries   

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Annotation: Twelve-year-old twins Ashley and Ryan are tested to the extreme when faced with a powerful avalanche while skiing in Wyoming's Grand Teton mountains. Includes survival tips from the National Avalanche Center and U.S. Forest Service.
Catalog Number: #150387
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Illustrator: Orban, Jani,
Pages: 104 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-544-97039-X
ISBN 13: 978-0-544-97039-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016057685
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
School Library Journal
JOHNSON, Terry Lynn . Overboard! Jul. 2017. ISBN 9780544970106 . ea vol: 112p. (Survivor Diaries). HMH . Tr. $9.99. Gr 35Johnson, author of Ice Dogs, presents an exciting new adventure/survival series. Each book starts out the same way: with a flashback to prior events. In short order, two friends or siblings find themselves alone when disaster strikes. It is up to the youths to use their resources and ingenuity to reach safety. There is often more than one hurdle to overcome, and just when the situation seems bleak and insurmountable, the teens rely on each other and persevere. At the conclusion of each text, readers are left with an open-ended question: What would you do to survive if you encountered a similar situation? Teachers could incorporate those essential questions into writing prompts or topics of discussion. Johnson also includes important survival tips from the U.S. Coast Guard and wilderness survival advice about hypothermia, bears, and avalanches. An interactive online site featuring games and resources provides further exploration for fans. The short chapters, large typeface, and simple sentences make this ideal for reluctant or struggling readers. VERDICT The inspiring messages, real-life advice, and glimpses at future career opportunities will make this a crowd pleaser. Hand to kids who enjoyed Laura Tarshis's "I Survived" series or Jeff Probst's "Stranded" books.Laura Dooley-Taylor, Lake Zurich Middle School North, IL
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
When 12-year-old twins Ashley and Ryan Hilder are caught in an avalanche, their survival training, quick thinking, and fortitude make the difference between life and death. Ashley has always lived in the shadow of her overachieving, uber-athletic brother. But when an avalanche renders Ryan incapacitated with severe hypothermia, it is up to Ashley to save not only his frostbitten feet, but his life. The white twins soon find that the cold is not their only enemy in Wyoming's Teton range. Bears, wolves, and wolverines are real and constant dangers. If they are to survive, Ashley must push aside her feelings of insecurity and make life-and-death decisions for both of them. While this is at its heart a well-researched, fast-paced survivor story, it is also a coming-of-age tale with surprising vulnerability and depth. The feeling of living in a sibling's shadow will resonate with many readers, while the messages of tenacity and strength are inspirational. An online game and connections to other Survivor Diaries combine with its easy-reading type and fast, straightforward plot to make this an ideal story for transitioning readers. An author's note outlines avalanche and wilderness safety skills and offers further resources for those looking to dig deeper into outdoor survival. A content-enriched page-turner with surprising depth. (Adventure. 9-12)
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Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (Fri Sep 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Word Count: 10,906
Reading Level: 4.2
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.2 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 194030 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.4 / points:5.0 / quiz:Q70625
Lexile: 610L


"Tell me how you survived the avalanche," the reporter said. He placed his phone on the kitchen table between us, then pressed Record. With his pen poised over his notepad, he looked at me expectantly. He smelled like grass and ink and summer tomatoes from the garden.
     Without thinking, I glanced around for my brother, but he wasn't in sight.
     "You sure you don't want to talk to Ryan, too?" Dad asked the reporter, filling his cup with coffee. "He's got a good eye for detail."
     "Maybe later." The reporter smiled at me. One tooth along the top was slightly crooked and stuck out. "I want to hear it from Ashley first."
     "The avalanche wasn't even the worst part," I began. "But I'll never forget the roar. How fast it all happened. One minute we were skiing, the next we were being swept down the mountain at lightning speed. It just grabbed us and I couldn't stop myself from falling. I couldn't breathe. The snow was everywhere, choking white blizzard in the air. Couldn't see . . ."
     "Wait." The reporter stopped recording. "I explained to your parents, Ashley. I'm writing a series about brave kids like you, surviving in the wilderness. Readers will want to know everything you were thinking, everything you did, so they can learn what to do if it happens to them. Where were you, and how did it happen? Try to tell me everything you remember."
     He didn't look at Dad, or anyone else. Only me.
     I felt suddenly anxious about being part of a series about brave kids. I was used to just being Ashley Hilder, twelve years old, twin sister to the awesome Ryan Hilder. I had never been anything special before, compared to him.
     The reporter pressed the red Record button again. "Tell me your story."
     I sat back in my chair, trying to conjure up the memory of that day. "It all started with the wolverines."


Two months earlier

"Try to keep up with your brother, Ash," Dad said.
     I had heard that my whole life.
     "You have to push yourself if you want to get faster and be the best on the team," he continued.
     The shushing from my skis muffled his voice, but I heard what he was saying loud and clear. Be as good as Ryan. I wanted my dad to be proud of me, too.
     The guide from the lodge where we were staying had dropped us off at the Chiseler Ditch trailhead. We were here to ski the famous mountains of Wyoming. Snowy peaks rose up like white daggers around us. We had mountains back home in Vermont, but none like these.
     The late-March ski conditions were perfect. Fresh snow from yesterday had set us up with pure powder. We'd be making first tracks, which was always my favorite part of alpine touring. The guide told us that the avalanche danger was only moderate below the tree line--a two out of five. It was three out of five, or considerable, in the upper alpine sections, but we were staying low today because of Mom. She wasn't as comfortable on skis as the rest of us.
     We stopped for lunch and studied the pamphlet we'd been given at the lodge earlier that morning. It provided information about wolverines along with a map. Some group was doing a study to figure out how recreational activity was affecting the wolverines. They had a sticky trap set on Colt Summit to catch the hairs of passing wolverines.
     "Listen to this quote from Douglas Chadwick's The Wolverine Way," Ryan said, reading from an excerpt in the pamphlet. "If wolverines have a strategy, it's this: Go hard, and high, and steep, and never back down, not even from the biggest grizzly, and least of all from a mountain." Ryan clawed his hand in front of his face for added drama as he read. "Climb everything: trees, cliffs, avalanche chutes, summits. Eat everybody: alive, dead, long-dead, moose, mouse, fox, frog, its still warm heart or frozen bones. Whatever wolverines do, they do undaunted. They live life as fiercely and relentlessly as it has ever been lived."
     "Gross about eating everybody," I said, and tossed a snowball at him.
     "Imagine seeing a wolverine for real," Ryan said, his eyebrows high the way they get when he's excited about a new plan. Ryan always has a new plan.
     After lunch, we continued down toward the Marmot Shelter, a heated yurt where Mom said she wanted to take a "proper break." Ryan led, as usual. I was next and then Dad. Mom struggled to keep up behind him. We skied along the trail, which was carved out between snow-swept spruce and fir.
     When Ryan sped up, I glanced behind to our parents before racing after him.
     "Keep going," Dad called after us. "I'll stay with Mom. We'll meet you at the shelter."
     Ryan's backpack, filled with his usual ski touring gear, bounced as he sped along the trail. I knew where he was heading.
     "You coming or what?" he said over his shoulder. "We'll have time to check it out if we hurry."
     "Wait," I said. "We don't even know where it is."
     Ryan stopped and pulled out the map he had stuffed in his pocket after lunch. He pointed to Colt Summit. "Yeah, we do. It's not far. And besides, going off-piste is what you wanted, right?"
     I'd always told him I thought skiing was more fun off the established trails. It was what excited me the most about our vacations.
     Ryan returned the map to his pocket, then pulled his helmet from his pack and snapped it on over his hat. "I know you want to skin up this face to hit untouched snow." He grinned at me.
     I could see Colt Summit now through the trees.
     "Eat my dust," Ryan said, pushing off sideways and gaining speed down a slight grade.
     "Hey!" I lurched after him.
     We sprinted a rowdy race to the next outcrop, but it was no use. I never beat him.
     Being twins is hard. Everyone compares you. Even though he's a guy and I'm a girl, we still look alike. Dark hair, dark eyes, pointy chins, and dimples in the same left cheek. We do the same activities. We're even on the same ski team. But people point out right in front of us that he's better at almost everything.
     The pack bumped my back as I hit a rough patch, and I stopped to pull my stainless steel water bottle out of the insulated sleeve. The bottle was nearly empty. The frosted Grand Teton, the highest point in the Teton Range and the second highest peak in Wyoming, rose up in the distance, and Colt Summit was just ahead on our right. I blew my breath out in a cloud and wrapped my glove around my ski pole.
     When we stopped at the fork in the trail, Ryan took out the map again and pointed at it.
     "Look. I was right. Here is where we'd go left to the shelter in Marmot Valley. But the wolverine hair trap is set up there on Colt Summit. Let's go see if we can spot a real wolverine."
     Scratching at my hat, I looked behind us. "You sure we have time?"
     It had started to snow, adding more powder to our ski. Large flakes melted on my hot face when I gazed up at the peak. I pulled up beside Ryan and reached for one side of the map.
     "We'd have to follow the right fork till about here," I said, reading the map we held between us and pointing. "And then cross that ridge before we got to the approach to Colt Summit. We should wait for Mom and Dad."
     But after a few minutes of standing still, we got cold. The sweat on our skin began to feel icy. I pulled out my own helmet, put it on, and secured the strap under my chin. We glanced at each other, and then in unison headed up the right fork in the trail, gaining speed to warm up. Ryan led.
     "Hurry," he said. "We can be up and back before they catch us if you get moving. But if not, they'll see our tracks and know where we are. No worries, little sister."
     Six minutes is apparently very important when it comes to birth order. Ryan never let me forget which one of us was born first.
     With enough speed, we headed up a slope and around a tight bend on the edges of our wide touring skis. The air was crisp. When we left the trail, I glanced behind us and smiled at our new tracks in the clean snow. I twisted back to face forward and scanned where I thought our route should take us up to the summit. It was going to be so fun coming down.
     The only sounds were our skis shushing in the snow and my ragged breathing in my ears as we pushed upward. Once the terrain got steeper, we stopped to unroll our mohair climbing skins and then attached them to the bottoms of our skis to avoid sliding backwards.
     I glided a few strokes, getting used to the feel of not sliding back. My tracks behind me drew straight lines in the snow like two long highway stripes. But when I faced ahead, I spotted different tracks.
     "Ry! Look!"
     Large oval footprints just like the ones on the pamphlet from the lodge crossed our tracks and zigzagged ahead. They were almost the size of my boot. "Are we sure they're wolverine? They're so big," I said.
     "Wolverines are only, like, thirty-five pounds," Ryan whispered, peering around. "But I read that their paws are as broad as the paws on a hundred-and-twenty-pound wolf. It's so they can walk on top of the snow."
     I could clearly see the imprint of the claws. "These must be very fresh," I said, glancing up at the falling snow. "They haven't been covered yet."
     The prints bounded ahead toward a crop of conifers shrouded in snow.
     "Let's get to that stand of trees over there," Ryan said. "Maybe we'll surprise the wolverine."
     The evergreens looked promising, but there was a large open expanse between us and the trees. I waited for Ryan to ski forward first, leaving a good distance between us like we'd learned in avalanche training at our ski club. I remembered if you had to cross avalanche terrain, you shouldn't expose more than one person to danger at a time. I watched him and then followed.
     Out in the open, I had a better sense of the sprawling landscape that surrounded us. Mountain ranges spread out in every direction. As our skis broke through the crisp, thin coating of hoarfrost underneath the new layer of snow, we heard a muffled whump.
     We both froze and looked at each other.
     An ominous sliding sound began. I felt the ground move beneath me. With growing horror, I saw the snow around us slab and break away.
     "Avalanche!" I screamed.

Excerpted from Avalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

In the launch title of a high-stakes adventure series, 12-year-old twins Ashley and Ryan are skiing with their parents in Wyoming's Grand Teton Mountains where there is a ground-shaking rumble. Unstable snow rushes downhill and buries them in icy white. It will take all of their knowledge and grit to survive.

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