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When the Worst Happens - Extraordinary Stories of Survival

When the Worst Happens

Extraordinary Stories of Survival

By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Illustrated by David Parkins
Interest Age: 9–12
Grade: 4–7
Reading Level: Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature: SL.5.1,1a,1b,1c,1d,2,3,4,5,6

Reading Level: Lexile 990L
Hardcover : 9781554516834, 128 pages, September 2014 , 9.0" x 6.5"
Paperback : 9781554516827, 128 pages, September 2014 , 9.0" x 6.5"


People overcome impossible odds where others surrendered and failed.

What would you do if you were stranded or trapped in a situation where you had to fight for your life? When the Worst Happens is a collection of intense, true stories set in distant corners of the earth.

• After a fierce storm, the crew of the Polaris was stranded on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean.
• A massive cave-in traps 19-year-old Jimmy Sanchez and 32 other Chilean miners deep below the earth.
• Twelve-year-old Bala and his two sisters must survive on a tiny island off the Australian coast after their boat capsizes.
• When her plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle, 17-year-old Juliane struggles to find help.

In extreme situations such as these, people can pull together, show almost super-human skill, and survive. But sometimes they face madness, greed or mutiny. These action-packed accounts reveal the critical decisions that determined the fate of each victim.
In an attempt to answer the question why people react the way they do in extreme circumstances, When the Worst Happens also looks at modern psychological studies, interesting historical details and settings, as well as seemingly unrelated events, to discover what draws the line between success and tragedy.

Graphic icons point readers to successful or poor decisions as each story unfolds, and outstanding illustrations capture the real-time developments in each riveting story.


  • Commended, Silver Birch Award, Honour Book, Ontario Library Association 2016
  • Long-listed, Golden Oak, Ontario Library Association 2016
  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award 2016


“A thrilling, well-sourced book, ideal for research or for browsing.”

- School Library Journal, 08/14

“Kyi’s fresh voice will have readers picturing themselves in the shoes of these real-life survivors.”

- Kirkus Reviews, 08/20/14

“This book will find a wide audience, in both public and school libraries where readers interested in history, adventure, and the outdoors will gravitate to it. Recommended.”

- CM Reviews, 11/14/14

“Info-packed read.”

- Youth Services Book Review, 11/28/14

“A great start for further research.”

- Quebec Library Association Bulletin, 04/15

“A very good book for readers who like adventure.” 

- Canadian Teacher, 02/01/17