The Joplin Disaster of 2011


“I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011” is a fictional book by Lauren Tarshis and published by Scholastic. This book is a story about Joplin being hit by what is one of the most destructive forces on Earth, a tornado. The tornado itself was three-quarters of a mile wide and with winds that had a top speed of over 200 miles an hour.

Dexter James (Dex in the book) is the name of the main character. Dex was 11 years old when it hit, and he was trapped inside of a van.

Dex has a brother named Jeremy and a dog named Zeke. The way that he meets Doctor Gage (a tornado chaser who has his own TV show) is that he was biking and not paying attention and almost got hit by his car. A storm chaser is a person who chases tornadoes and other strong storms to capture information for the safety of people now and for greater insights to provide safety in the future.

Joplin is located in Missouri, only seven miles away from the border of Kansas. They get tornado warnings often. Doctor Gage invited him to chase the storm that day because he didn’t expect it to be a tornado. However, it was a tornado, and the tornado shifted to Joplin where they were. Things didn’t as expected as there were injuries, surprises, and mysteries.

The story is based on a true tornado, but the characters are made up (fictional story).

I thought the book was OK. I think it is good that they focused on just one person’s story. It gave them more room to be descriptive in the writing about that one story instead of having a lot of stories with just a few details. The book was short. It was only 89 pages, so it was quick to read.

At the end of the book there is a Question and Answer section about tornadoes, a section on why the author wrote this book, and advice on extra reading if you want to know more about tornadoes. There are only a few pictures in the book. It would have been better if they had shown more pictures since this book is designed for younger readers (it is a grade 4 reading level book designed for 2nd-4th graders).

This book is the 12th in a series of 13 books, with each book describing a major event in history (most are natural disasters from the 20th century). You can go to to see more details about this and the other books. According to this website, the author is working on book #14 right now and just released a picture of the front cover. Check it out for yourself!