Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Zane and the hurricane by Rodman Philbrick

Hurricane Katrina was a devastating event that uprooted families, shattered a community and changed the way the country responds to natural disasters.  I for one vividly recall the images on the nightly news and the delayed response to the calamity. Folks were interviewed and were so desperate for some sort of assistance that they said they were "refugees". Foreign nations offered to send aid to the US- usually it's the other way around. This book is told from the viewpoint of a young boy who for all intents and purposes is a foreigner to New Orleans- Zane is a young boy from New England who visits the area in an attempt to reconnect with his father's side of the family.  It is just his bad luck that his visit coincides with the worst storm to hit the area in years.

Zane Dupree is  young boy who lives with his mother in New England and enjoys a comfortable, safe life. He wonders about his father though and never seems to get a straight answer whenever he asks his mother about his father's demise. He decides to take a summer trip to New Orleans to meet his paternal grandmother and discovers she is not only funny but also has a huge supply of ice cream in the freezer.

Unexpectedly Hurricane Katrina hits and although Zane and his grandmother are offered the chance to travel to safety, circumstances dictate otherwise and Zane finds himself wondering with his dog.Salvation comes in the form of a local musician in a floating canoe. A little girl is also in the canoe and the musician says that he is just taking care of her for a while. So flooded is the area that the canoe is their best means of traversing the area. At one point Zane quotes from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a fantastic tie in and an apt description of the situation in those days after the storm

This is a very readable book that is based on the very true and very unfortunate facts of the worst hurricane disaster in U.S. history, Philbrick includes the lawlessness and lack of government support during the disaster as well as the generosity and courage of those who risked their lives and safety to help others. This is an unforgettable novel of heroism in the face of truly challenging circumstances.

Recommended for: Middle school students

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