Ten-year-old Leo loves being a newsboy in San Francisco—not only does he get to make some money to help his family, he’s free to explore the amazing, hilly city as it changes and grows with the new century. Horse-drawn carriages share the streets with shiny new automobiles, businesses and families move in everyday from everywhere, and anything seems possible.

But early one spring morning, everything changes. Leo’s world is shaken—literally—and he finds himself stranded in the middle of San Francisco as it crumbles and burns to the ground. Does Leo have what it takes to survive this devastating disaster?
As seen in this photograph, the San Francisco Earthquake left much of the city in ruins. Since then, buildings in San Francisco and other cities are specially constructed to withstand earthquakes. (© Library of Congress)
A map of the Ring of Fire, also known as the Pacific Plate. The Pacific plate is always moving, and caused recent powerful earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand, and Japan. (© USGS)
Did You Know...Facts about Earthquakes
  • Earthquakes are caused by movement of the Earth's tectonic plates-gigantic pieces of the planet's rocky crust. The edges of the plates are rough, and sometimes knock into one another, getting stuck. They get so stuck, in fact, that only a sudden violent movement-an earthquake-can get them unstuck!
  • Eighty percent of the world's earthquakes happen in an area of the Pacific Ocean nicknamed the "ring of fire." The Pacific plate is always moving, and caused recent powerful earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand, and Japan. It also caused the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.
  • The most earthquake-prone state in the United States is Alaska. That's where America's strongest earthquake occurred, a quake measuring 9.2 that hit Prince William Sound on March 28, 1964.
  • The deadliest earthquake on record happened in central China, in the year 1556. It struck a region where most people lived in caves carved into soft rock. The earthquake caused the caves to collapse, and an estimated 830,000 people died.
  • Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes beneath the ocean floor. The 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand was caused by an undersea megathrust earthquake in the Indian Ocean.


  • What would you do in a massive earthquake,
    like the one in San Francisco?
    Read about Leo's story.
    Click here to get the book!

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