Earthquake! The Diary of Katie Bourke, Napier, 1930-31 by Janine McVeagh

Earthquake by Janine McVeagh is one of the fascinating books in the My New Zealand Story series by Scholastic.  Each of the books in the series is written in diary form and looks at a particular event or period of time in the history of New Zealand.  Earthquake tells the story of 11-year-old Katie Bourke who is growing up in Napier during the Great Depression, when money and basic necessities are hard to find.

Katie writes about how she wants to escape the boredom of school and try to do something to help her struggling family.  You find out what life was like in New Zealand during the depression and how ordinary New Zealanders were coping.  Then the Napier earthquake strikes and turns everything upside down.

Janine McVeagh kindly told us a little about how she came to write Earthquake:

I grew up in Napier and went to the same school that Katie in the book does. We all knew about the earthquake because our parents had been children when it happened. When I wanted to write an historical story for Scholastic, the Napier earthquake seemed a natural one to do.

I did most of the research in Napier, which has a whole section of its library and its museum devoted to the earthquake and people’s accounts of what it was like. One book contained an account by the nun who was teaching at St Joseph’s; she described the way the windows exploded and the desks slid across the room and jammed against the door. There were also some recorded interviews in the Turnbull Library and many great photos.

Getting a feel for what it was like in Napier before the earthquake happened was important too. I  interviewed my father and his older brother who were little boys at the time, but remembered it very vividly. Their father (my grandfather) used to deliver milk to the town and my uncle sometimes went with him and scooped it out for the women who were waiting at their gates.

6 Responses so far

  1. 1

    neve said,

    awesome! i really want to read that book i want to see/read about how they felt in the earquake!

  2. 2

    neve said,

    now im not so sure being in the 6.3 at home i now wnot to forget

  3. 4

    Caitlin said,

    Awesome book i like the second part i love these My Story books

  4. 5

    Jennifer said,

    Does anyone know what happened to Katie? Did she get her Proficiency?Did she own a chicken farm? Did she travel? Did she become a nurse? Did she marry and have children? Her diary is haunting and tantalising.Someone must have/had her as a relative.

  5. 6

    Anonymous said,

    yeaaa good book

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