“A Place Where Hurricanes Happen” tells the tale of Hurricane Katrina in a perfectly formatted picture book for the early elementary age readers. While the beautifully drawn illustrations show the true devastation of New Orleans’ aftermath, the story is presented through the eyes of children, allowing this to be read to a class with little discomfort and provides the ability for readers to build a connection to this event.
The story revolves around Adrienne, Keesha, Michael, and Tommy who are friends that live in the same community. Each page changes the perspective of the story to each of these friends and the reader is brought through three different parts. The first part covers the culture of New Orleans subtly by involving the kids with different parts, from walking down a typical street to the jambalaya cooking for dinner. The second two parts cover the time during the hurricane and the different routes people took for their safety and then continues into discussing life after the hurricane. The choice of writing style is free verse which seems to work in the benefit of voicing each child’s perspective in the book.
Renee Watson’s story is a great voice for the children who went through Hurricane Katrina. She allows her writing to encompass the voices of different children which makes this a perfect book to read to an audience. Shadra Strickland’s illustrations do a good job of bringing alive the overflowing culture that exists in New Orleans. Each illustration has a good relationship with the story and makes a great addition to the overall book.
“We’re from New Orleans, a place where hurricanes happen. But that’s only the bad side.” New Orleans is a wonderful place that was hit by a devastating hurricane. This story shows the vibrant life that was and still is present in New Orleans. I highly recommend this book.
For another good children’s literature choice on Hurricane Katrina, check out “Ninth Ward” by Jewell Parker Rhodes.