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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Just some of my favorite Hurricane Titles

Remembering Hurricane Katrina, I wanted to share these titles with you briefly.

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson and illustrated by Shadra Strickland. Random House, 2010. Picture book.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little, Brown., 2010. Fiction for ages 10 and up.

Hurricane Katrina from the series TurningPoints in U.S. History by Judith Bloom Fraden and Dennis Brindell Fraden. Marshall Cavendish, 2010. Nonfiction.

Hurricanes! from the series Eyewitness Disaster by Angela Royton. Marshall Cavendish, 2010.

Of these four titles, the Eyewitness Disaster series title Hurricanes! has been most popular. Even when I was working with these books out in public at my favorite beverage habitats, other adults would pick up each title then sit and pour over Hurricanes! Upon request I took other titlesin the series by for their perusal including:

    • Earthquakes
    • Floods
    • Storms
    • Tsunamis
    • Volcanoes

One of the students commented to me about why this series was so popular. He said that this book had details in it, but was designed so your eyes popped from box to box to read and you weren’t bored. Woohoo! High praise, indeed!

I like the series in part because it goes beyond a focus on just disasters in the U.S. but has a global span. My only negative is that I wish each title ended with a stronger wrap up, so I don’t suddenly turn the page to find the Glossary. Then I end up flipping back and forth moaning and wanting more information. This is a solid upper elementary and middle school nonfiction title.

Hurricane Katrina was popular for a younger group and ELL readers due to the photographs and straight forward narrative. The message of learning from our mistakes was clear to my students. I knew this title was a hit when students continued to ask each other questions after reading like “Why didn’t the government get there sooner? How could those people be calling for help and no one help them? What about their pets? Why did they write 5 people, 1 dog, 1 cat on the roof?”

Aha! I knew quite a bit about the pets question since I am a member of the ASPCA and donated what I could to help the animals stranded there be reunited with families. During the ALA Annual 2006, the ASPCA awards program was one of my favorite events and not just because it was held at the zoo. I felt like I had been able to contribute something to causes I cared about.  The ASPCA events remain some of my favorite at ALA Annual even though my schedule is super-heavy this year.

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen is a picture book written from the point of view of four young children living in a New Orleans neighborhood. As the opening states:

We’re from New Orleans, a place where hurricanes happen. But that’s only the bad side.

This title worked with my middle-schoolers while we were studying point of view, voice, and inferences. The moment of silence when they saw the double-page spread of the flood was worth listening to them complain that it was a little kids book when I began. After I ended, one of the students suggested that this would be a good title for Reader’s Theater and different voices reading. I agreed.

The author and illustrator managed to include the sense of joy and living in the moment that children do, no matter what city they live in. I’m happy to return to New Orleans after my visits in 2006 and 2007.

Ninth Ward is such an unusual title that I read my ARC twice. Jewell Parker Rhodes created a wonderfully unique character in Lanesha. Her approach to dealing with incredibly difficult situations was mystical yet practical. Mathematics and engineering grounded with “the sight” and an ability to reach out to others.

Once students finished Ninth Ward, they moved on to other disaster fiction titles by Peg Kehret. Several older boys sought out Paul Volponi’s Hurricane Song.

If I were at school, I’d pull out the other titles on hurricanes and disasters we’ve used this year.