From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up-In the style of The Great Fire (Scholastic, 1995), Murphy writes a fascinating account of the March, 1888, storm that paralyzed the Northeastern U.S. for four days. This terrifying natural disaster is described from the perspectives of several individuals of various ages and social positions, primarily in New York City, some of whom survived the storm and some of whom did not. The narrative is a readable and seamless blend of history and adventure adapted from extensive first-person accounts and primary news sources. Beginning with an ominous harbinger, the scene is set with descriptions of what life was like at that time, including popular culture and means of forecasting the weather, which completely failed in this instance. The text is exciting without being melodramatic: as the storm arrives, strengthens, and stays, readers come to see the horrible extent to which people had to cope with the loss of food, heat, communications, and loved ones. Concluding by explaining why this event is important, the author places it in the context of other weather and its effect on history. Authentic photographs, drawings, and maps that demonstrate the course of the storm, all done in the same sepia tone as the text, perfectly illustrate the book. Overall, a superb piece of writing and history.Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 5-9. On March 10, 1888, the weather on the eastern coast of the U.S. was so pleasant that families were picnicking. By Monday morning, however, a huge, destructive blizzard--actually two storms--stretched from Delaware north to Maine and as far west as the Mississippi River. New York City had 21 inches of drifting snow; Troy, New York, was blanketed under 55 inches. Supplies of fuel, food, and milk dwindled; power lines snapped; trains were trapped; nearly 200 ships were lost at sea; and an estimated 800 people died in New York City alone. No wonder some called the storm "The Great White Hurricane." Like Murphy's award-winning The Great Fire
(1995), this is an example of stellar nonfiction. The haunting jacket illustration grabs attention, and the dramatic power of the splendid narrative, coupled with carefully selected anecdotes, newspaper accounts, and vintage and contemporary photos, will keep the pages turning. Murphy does a fine job describing the incredible storm, the reasons behind the tragic consequences, and the terrifying fates of victims. A splendid choice for booktalking; order several copies. Notes are appended. Jean FranklinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved