Fall-Out

by Gudrun Pausewang

When the siren howled on a Friday morning in May, Janna's teacher and her classmates... read more

When the siren howled on a Friday morning in May, Janna's teacher and her classmates assumed it was just another fire drill. A PA announcement sending all students home by the quickest route throws everyone into a state of turmoil, and the panic level continues to rise when rumors of a radioactive leak at a neighboring nuclear power plant are confirmed. Although directed by the police to "move at once to a closed room and shut all the doors and windows," Janna's neighbors instead begin a mass exodus of the area. Home alone with her younger brother, Janna decides to leave as well, and the two set off on their bicycles The horrors which follow are only too realistic, from "everyone for himself" survival tactics to the inescapable tragedy of radiation sickness to the eventual political and social stigma of the accident's survivors. Originally published in Germany, this harsh story, finely told, raises moral and ethical questions about the use of potentially devastating technology. (Ages 14-16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1995

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