Pros: great painting illustrations, good story that covers a kids' level of the events
Cons: sort of wish the dead person (vague as it is) wasn't included at all
My son was not quite 1 year old when Katrina hit New Orleans. We had friends in the area at the time and their home had to be gutted. The storm was a scary thing and many people were greatly effected by the breached levees. We've mentioned it a few times with my son, but when I saw A Storm Called Katrina, a picture book, at my library, I hoped it would be a good one to tell him more about the hurricane's effect. I was not disappointed.
The book follows a ten year old, Louis Daniel, as the storm starts. He is worried, but his parents try to calm him. When the rain stopped and the family noticed that water was rising, they realized quickly that they needed to leave their house right then and there. Louis was only able to grab his brass cornet horn with him and his family left their house. They floated on a wooden porch that had torn off and passed other people, even a dog with a ball that Daniel wanted to take with them but his dad said no. They all went to the Superdome and there is a little bit of discussion about the potential lack of food and water, so the family separates. When Daniel and his mom wait all afternoon and then some people start trying to take Daniel's bottle of water and the two move to a different section of the stadium, will Daniel's father ever be able to find them again?
The book is written by Myron Uhlberg and has a combination of narration and dialogue. The story is easy to follow and while it is not a true story it is based on real events and I felt it portrayed what it might have been like for a child, quite well. There is one part that is a little vague, but Daniel sees a drowned person, though his mother tries to shield him for it. This is reality of the event, but a little sad (and unclear) in the story.
The illustrations are by Colin Bootman and are rendered in oil on wood panels. They are beautiful and do an excellent job of capturing the events being described along with the emotions on faces. The family in the story is African American and the people they interact with are diverse. The dog they meet is a cute Jack Russell looking dog. There is a lot of realism in the scenes.
Overall I think this book captures the roller coaster that was Katrina for a child. There are definitely some sad and scary parts, but nothing acutely so, and it has a fairly happy ending (we don't actually see the condition of their home when they return). My son's favorite part was the ending. I would recommend this book for children 4-8 years old.
Thanks to Stef for adding this to the database for me to be able to review.