Survival Tails: Eruption at Krakatoa


By Katrina Charman

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Animals must team up to survive the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa in this heart-pounding fourth installment of Survival Tails, perfect for fans of the Ranger in Time and I Survived series.

Parakeet Melati lives with the rest of her bird friends and family on the beautiful slopes of the Indonesian island of Krakatoa. While rumblings sometimes sound from deep within the earth, the birds live peacefully in their jungle. But when Melati is woken by tremors stronger than she’s ever felt before, she realizes that her sleeping island volcano may not be sleeping any longer.

Across a narrow stretch of water lives Budi, a rhinoceros, and his old friend Raja, the tiger king of the jungle. When Melati arrives with a dire warning that something is happening to Krakatoa, Raja believes the animals are safest in the jungle, but Budi disagrees. As ash rains down on the island and the earthquakes worsen, Raja must put aside his fears and put his trust in Budi. Otherwise, the animals of the jungle will never stand a chance against the mighty eruption of Krakatoa.

With lush black-and-white illustrations and bonus facts that delve into the fascinating true story behind the eruption, Survival Tails: The Eruption of Krakatoa will both captivate and educate young readers.





May 9, 1883

Krakatoa, Indonesia

Melati awoke with the dawn alongside other parakeets and colorful birds on the island of Krakatoa. It was her favorite part of the day, when the sun arose above the mountains in the distance and the sound of birdsong played like a melody through the gently swaying palm trees. She breathed in the sweet, salty air, then flew up and over the ocean, soaring in a wide circle around her island as she did every morning. The summits of the three mountains of Krakatoa rose into view—Perboewatan, Danan, and Rakata. Their sides were covered in every shade of green imaginable, by the ferns and tall grasses, palm and coconut trees that thrived in the tropical heat of Indonesia. Each mountain had a dip in its peak as though an elephant had sat upon it.

Down by the shore, as they often were at that time of the morning, were the humans. A group of three fishermen moored their wooden boat close to the shoreline and waded through the crystal-clear blue water. Melati watched them cast their nets out over the gentle waves as they fished, gathering food for their families. Melati didn’t mind the humans much. She knew that some of the other birds on the island feared them, but the fishermen did no harm. They took only what they needed from the ocean and the island—on occasion, they would search the forest for fallen trees, to make or repair their boats.

The fishermen took little interest in the birds on Krakatoa. It was common for the humans to see many of the hundreds of colorful birds on the island—parakeets, birds of paradise, and cockatoos.

One of the men noticed Melati loitering on the beach. He reached into a small woven bag and pulled out a handful of nuts, tossing them onto the sand. Melati hopped forward eagerly, then paused. The nuts had landed a lot closer to the humans than she would have liked. She took a chance and hopped a little closer, not wanting to lose out on the chance of a tasty snack.

In a quick burst, she flew to the nuts and scooped them up in her beak, along with a mouthful of sand, then flew up into the closest tree. She dropped the nuts onto the thick branch and spat out the rough grains of sand. She had bent down to savor the first nut when the men stood suddenly, shouting and pointing out at the sea. She followed the men’s gaze. The surface of the ocean lay completely flat, without even the slightest wave or wrinkle or imperfection. It was as though it had just stopped. Frozen in place. Even the humans’ fishing boat lay ominously still, no longer rising or falling with the gentle ebb and flow of the tide.

Then, in a blink of an eye, all returned to normal. Melati shook her head, confused about what had just happened. She had never seen the sea act that way before. The waves washed gently against the shore once more, and the fishing boat bobbed and swayed in the water. The men, though, were spooked. They shouted to one another, ran out into the sea, and swam to the boat, grabbing the handcrafted wooden oars and swiftly rowing away without a backward glance, leaving their nets behind. Melati swallowed thickly, then glanced down at her stash of nuts, a sense of unease building inside her stomach.

She picked up the nuts and flew to her nest to tuck them away beneath some leaves; then she took another lap of the island, searching for anything that might explain what had happened to the water. The birds chattered and sang to one another through the trees. The insects buzzed and busied themselves collecting leaves and food, building nests, making honey. Melati wondered if she had been imagining things. It might have been nothing more than a change in the wind that had caused the sea to stop moving for a moment. Just an illusion, or a trick of the mind.

Melati tried to brush the incident away and returned to her tree. She groomed her green-and-yellow feathers, smoothing down any that were out of place and pulling the loose ones to add to her nest. Then she settled down to sleep with her head beneath her wing. Finally, her worries drained away as she let herself sink into a calm, deep sleep.

Suddenly, Melati was awoken by something shaking her. At first she thought another bird had landed on her branch. But when she opened her eyes she saw a flock of parakeets flying away.

“What’s going on?” she called out to them. But they were too far off to hear her cries.

Unsettled, she had opened her wings to investigate when an almighty rumble emanated from the earth. She clung to her branch, digging her sharp claws into the wood to stop herself from falling. The vibrations pulsed through her. The tremor was so fierce that it shook the tree from side to side, as though it were in the middle of a storm. But the sky was clear and the weather fine.

Melati froze, trying to resist the sound of the beating in her ears urging her to fly away, fly away now! She swooped down to the ground, landing near a small outcrop of rocks, and waited. The tremor came again. This time she felt it. It started in her feet, a small vibration that almost tickled. Then it moved up her legs and through her body, spreading through her feathers and radiating out to their very tips.

She had felt tremors before. There had been the occasional rumble in the distance, but that was from the mainland—Sumatra or Java—not on Krakatoa. Never on Krakatoa. This one felt different. Not only could she feel it moving through the earth and her body, but it was also all around her in the very air. The waves were invisible and silent, but there was an unmistakable rush that seemed to emanate out from the core of the island itself.

Melati’s feathers shook. She suddenly felt very afraid. When the shaking had eased and her head had stopped buzzing, she flew off in the direction of the other parakeets to find out what had happened. But once she was through the thick canopy of trees, she found no sign of them. Instead, she flew to the mountains. She had heard other birds who visited the island talk of mountains that roared and blew out fire, which made the very ground open up and swallow everything in its path. But Krakatoa had always been a quiet, safe island. Her sanctuary.

She reached Rakata first. It was as still and quiet as usual. She flew on to Danan. Again, everything seemed calm and quiet. The birds had returned to their trees and, despite a few ruffled feathers, seemed unbothered by the unusual state of affairs. Melati flew to Perboewatan. As she approached, it seemed just as it always was, but when she flew around to the other side, she noticed something shifting at its base. She descended to get a closer look, as a loud crack filled the air. Melati glanced up just in time to see a huge chunk of rock crumble and break off. She screeched, managing to duck out of the way, narrowly avoiding being thrown to the ground with it. The rock landed on the earth with a loud thud, echoing through the trees.

Then slowly, to Melati’s horror, more and more rock began to break away, sliding down the mountainside, and a thin plume of smoke rose from a deep gash in the side of the mountain where the rock had once been.



May 10, 1883

Southern Sumatran Rain Forest

Budi basked in the cool, muddy puddle, letting the mud ooze and squelch between his toes as his vast body sank down into it. He swatted his tail back and forth lazily, trying to wave off the flies that had gathered. But it didn’t do much good, and he had little energy to be bothered to give any more effort. He was glad of the peace and quiet (if he ignored the incessant flies buzzing in his ears) after spending the morning trying to calm the monkeys. They had gotten into an argument with an orangutan about who had the rights to the fruit of a jackfruit tree. After much calming down, Budi had convinced them that there was plenty of fruit to share, but he knew that as soon as he was out of sight, the quarrel would likely begin again. He just hoped it didn’t escalate into poop flinging, as it often did when it came to the monkeys.

He had closed his eyes with a loud sigh when suddenly his ears pricked up as he sensed a predator nearby. He sighed again, then turned his head ever so casually so as not to startle the predator into making any sudden movements that it might live to regret—as relaxed as he might seem, it was a foolish animal who tried to take on a Sumatran rhinoceros. From the corner of his eye, Budi saw a slight quiver in the trees, as though a light breeze had passed through.

Budi hauled himself from the mud with a sucking sound, then lowered his head so that his horns were in full view, facing his potential attacker head-on. At the same time, a giant tiger soared through the trees, claws out, teeth bared. But at the last second, the tiger darted to the side and rolled on the ground, convulsing with laughter.



May 10, 1883

Southern Sumatran Rain Forest

“Are you all right?” Dewi asked Melati as they returned to the jungle. Melati had met Dewi on the beach when she was a young parakeet and Dewi was a young pangolin, and they had been friends ever since. Ahead, the largest rhino and tiger Melati had ever seen in her life were caught up in what seemed like an intense conversation, with lots of growling.

“I don’t think I am, Dewi,” Melati said. “What does that mean? Fire?”

Dewi shuddered. “Nothing good,” she replied. “Do you see Raja’s scar?”

Melati nodded. She couldn’t help but notice it. It ran across almost the whole of the tiger’s right side, and no fur grew over the puckered skin.

“Humans did that to him, with fire,” Dewi said.

Melati shivered, and Dewi gave her a gentle hug and smiled. “It’s good to see you, Melati.”

“You too, Dewi,” Melati said. “You always know how to make me feel better. I was worried about you. I wondered if the tremors had come from here.”

“We felt a small rumble last night,” Dewi said. “But nothing like you described. It is usually nothing to worry about.” She paused. “The smoke, though, that is new.”

Melati stopped, suddenly feeling as though she might be sick. “I’m afraid, Dewi,” she said. “For my island, my home, for the others living there. If something bad is happening to the mountains, then only the birds will be able to escape.”

“Don’t worry,” Dewi said. “Raja and Budi will find out what’s going on.”

Melati watched the two animals as they sniped back and forth, and wished she had the confidence Dewi had. She flew ahead to get their attention, but they were so deep in conversation that they didn’t notice her.

“It’s not my job to worry about an island,” Raja said. “The jungle is my domain, no more, no less.”

“What about the animals here?” Budi replied. “You need to make sure we are safe.”

Raja waved a paw in the air dismissively. “We have lived here our whole lives, Budi, our parents and grandparents before us. Has anything bad ever happened here in the jungle?”

Budi shook his head. “Well, no, but the smoke, Raja…”

Melati took the brief pause as her chance to interrupt. “If I may…” she started.

The tiger and rhino looked down at her in surprise as though they had forgotten she was still there.

“I sometimes visit the human village,” Melati continued, suddenly feeling very small. “Ketimbang. Perhaps I could go there and listen to what the humans are saying about the smoke? Then we might know more about what is happening and if there is any danger.”

Budi smiled at her. “A very good idea, young parakeet,” he said. “Raja? What do you say?”

“No humans,” Raja growled. “You know the rules, Budi. We stay away from the humans, they stay away from us, everyone lives.”

“But surely it couldn’t hurt, Your Majesty,” Dewi interjected.

Melati nodded gratefully at her friend. “I know some of the humans in Ketimbang,” she continued. “There is a family there that I sometimes visit… a little girl and…”

“A little girl?” Raja laughed. “What would she know about the mountain?”

Melati gave Budi a pleading look, and his eyes softened. “Let her finish, Raja.”

“The girl came to Sumatra from a different land. Her father seems to be in charge of the village. If anyone knows what is going on, he will. If I go and listen in on their conversations…”

“Then you will be caught and either will become their pet in a cage or will be plucked and eaten!” Raja finished.

“No!” Dewi gasped.

Melati’s stomach dropped. She didn’t know why she had bothered to come and seek help. Why would they care about what happened to her beautiful island?

She turned and stormed away from the tiger, then paused.

You might not care about what happens to Krakatoa, but I do!” she shouted. “And I’m not afraid to do what needs to be done to save my island.”

With that, she took to the sky, her heart pounding out of her chest. She chanced a quick look back and saw Dewi and Budi trying to hide their smiles as Raja stared up at her with his huge jaw hanging open.

I’m not afraid, she told herself as she headed for Ketimbang.

Ketimbang was the closest human village to the jungle. Even so, it took Melati two hours to reach the outskirts. The village lay on the coast, with a small harbor bustling with steamships and fishing boats. Many were there to trade goods such as sugar and fragrant spices. Melati soared over the funnel-shaped bay, taking in the mangrove swamps and mud flats the town was built upon. Not long ago, it had barely been a small village, but since Johanna and her family had come to Ketimbang, many others had followed, and slowly the village was turning into a town.

The long shadow of Rajabasa drew over Melati as she flew. The mountain was taller than Danan, Perboewatan, and Rakata on Krakatoa island, and it stood proudly behind Ketimbang.


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  • "An exciting, sometimes humorous, adventure...blends well-written, riveting animal fantasy with historical information about the ship's disastrous voyage."—Booklist
  • "This new take on the infamous tragedy of the Titanic is full of close calls and animal high jinks."—Kirkus Reviews
  • On Sale
    May 5, 2020
    Page Count
    208 pages