A Place Where Hurricanes Happen

Renee Watson, Author, Shadra Stickland, Illustrator
Renée Watson, illus. by Shadra Strickland., Random, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-856099
Reviewed on: 05/31/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
Paperback - 40 pages - 978-0-385-37668-6
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-375-98307-8
Library Binding - 40 pages - 978-0-375-95609-6
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-16915-9
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Strickland's (Bird) quietly powerful watercolors make this story of four fictional Ninth Ward children caught in Hurricane Katrina especially affecting. As firsttime author Watson moves among the perspectives of the children—Adrienne, Michael, Keesha, and Tommy—Strickland presents scenes of everyday life, the fearsomeness of the storm itself (a wordless spread shows blocks of tidy houses up to their roofs in water), the wreckage, and the rebuilding. Before Katrina, the children play hide-and-seek and ride their bicycles together. They know Katrina is coming, but expect little harm: "The sky don't look gray at all./ Seems like the sun is gonna shine forever," says Adrienne. Some relocate, some remain, though the children are reunited in a homecoming that brings muted joy; some of their neighbors are gone forever. But Katrina is not all there is of New Orleans, and when they gather in their much-changed neighborhood a year later, they agree: "We're from New Orleans,/ a place where hurricanes happen./ But that's only the bad side." In the same way, although Watson's story delivers some difficult emotional blows, it has plenty of sweetness, too. Ages 7–10. (June)
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