Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Escape from Hurricane Katrina

Dodson, Judy Allen. Escape from Hurricane Katrina
July 6th 2021 by little bee books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sophie is worried that her mother won't get to her swim meet because she's not feeling very well after treatment for her cancer, but soon bigger issues arrive. It's August, 2005, and Hurricane Katrina is rapidly approaching New Orleans. Sophie lives with her parents and twin brother JoJo is a house in the Ninth Ward that has been in the family for generations. Her father starts to fortify the house and lay in supplies, but with the threat of power being out, her mother contacts a sister to see if they can get a ride away from the storm, since the family's car is being fixed. There's only room for the mother, so the children and their father plan to ride out the storm. They move things to the attic and hope for the best, but eventually feel they need to leave. They have a small raft ready to go, but when they leave, elderly neighbors have difficulties and the father stays with them. The children are told to head to the Superdome, where the father will try to find them. Along the way, they help rescue a family with small children, and Sophie uses her swimming skills to save a baby. When they finally make it to the center, they do find a family friend and feel safer being with adults they know, but are soon separated. Sophie becomes ill because of the water she swallowed while recusing the baby, and the Superdome has limited medical help. The children leave a clue with their whereabouts painted on the field, and have help from another girl also separated from her family, but will they be able to make it in the crowded stadium, be reunited with their parents, and be able to remake their lives after the storm?
Strengths: The best part of this book was the insets with information about what really happened during the storm. Factual information is given to answer questions like "Did people really stay?" and "Did people get sick from being in the water?" Sophie and JoJo are good characters who work well together, and exhibit some normal tween responses to a terrible situation-- JoJo brings their pet turtle with him! The family has made plans, but they don't always go smoothly, which is a great way to show how people deal with disasters. The illustrations are done in an interesting style and give a great feel for the setting and situation. This is a good choice for younger middle grade readers who love Tarshis' I Survived books and can't get enough about natural disasters. 
Weaknesses: The other books in this series are Escape from the Titanic and Escape from Pompeii. There are already SO many books on these topics, and I don't really need any more. I'd love to see fictional titles about about the Halifax explosion (Blizzard of Glass), the Peshtigo fire, or any disasters that haven't been covered quite as much. My favorite horrible historical event is the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and there could be a book that addressed this for younger readers; there are plenty of YA versions.
What I really think: Since I already have the Tarshis and Messner books on this topic, along with Smith's Another Kind of Hurricane and Rhode's Ninth Ward, Herlong's Buddy and Brown's Drowned City, I will pass on purchase, but this is a great updated version if your library is low on books about this event. This one does get bonus points for having a pet cat instead of a dog!

Ms. Yingling

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