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Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember (Harvest Original) Paperback – July 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Original
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (July 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156031892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156031899
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

PRAISE FOR THE KINGDOM OF ZYDECO

"Exhaustive . . . riveting . . . The Kingdom of Zydeco is a back-road trip well worth making." —LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"An important book for anyone with an interest in life, American music, Southern culture, dancing, accordions, the recording industry, folklore, old dance clubs in the weeds, fortune tellers, hoodoos or shotguns."—E. ANNIE PROULX



"This wonderful memoir manages to do what a flood of news-reporting could not: see the tragedy of Katrina through the eyes of children. I was touched by the depth of feeling that wells from these pages, and I was heartened by the resilience and courage of these Children of the Storm. Katrina impressed itself indelibly on a generation of New Orleans children, and Tisserand makes the complexity real through the story of his own children and that of their friends in exile. The story of The Sugarcane Academy, an improvised one-room school in a sugar-cane parish in south Louisiana, will be one of the lasting books of our tragedy."

(Andrei Codrescu, author of New Orleans, Mon Amour)

"Through his personal account, the experiences of (Bookpage 2007-08-01)

"Michael Tisserand knows more about life in New Orleans than anybody else I know. Sugarcane Academy is a poignant, well-written and awe-inspiring non-fiction saga of Louisiana citizens coping with Katrina's wrath. Highly recommended."

(Douglas Brinkley)

"When journalist Michael Tisserand and his family found themselves escaping the maelstrom of Hurricane Katrina, he turned his investigative eye on the aftermath as his family and others helped create a one-room schoolhouse for evacuee children. This true story of how determination, faith, and a sheer force of will allowed learning and hope to blossom in the office space that became the only public school open in New Orleans."

(FamilyCircle.com 2007-09-01)

"Writing with the same warmth and humanity that distinguished his ASCAP Deems Taylor Award-winning The Kingdom of Zydeco (1998), Tisserand offers tender, revealing profiles of Reynaud, his fellow volunteer teachers and others affected by the evacuation...Inspirational and heartwarming." (Starred Review)
(Kirkus Reviews 2007-03-15)

"The contrast between the hopefulness and ingenuity of the parents,students and teachers who created the school and the despair of downtrodden bureaucrats and volunteers who, in Tisserand's gentle telling, established policies and protocols that become roadblocks to spiritual and physical regeneration is huge."

(Susan Salter Reynolds LA Times 2007-07-15)

"Every so often a remarkable tale of human resiliency comes our way. It is especially moving when that saga enables vulnerable children to overcome adversity. Sugarcane Academy is a story that needed to be told. The contents of its pages open our eyes to how a disaster in New Orleans can bring forth creativity and empathy that we all need to emulate."

(Mel Levine, M.D. author of A Mind at a Time)

"With his sharp eye for detail and his abundant heart, Tisserand paints a devastating portrait of the toll exacted by Hurricane Katrina, particularly on the children. Simple, compelling, and quietly dramatic, Sugarcane Academy is both eulogy and commencement -- a tribute to the endurance of the human spirit."

(Mike Sager, Writer-at-Large Esquire)

"A testament to the teachers who supported Katrina's children, Sugarcane Academy reminds us all that heroes hold small hands on field trips, clean paint brushes, and sing morning songs."

(Phillip Done, author of 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny)

"This book delivers insightful anecdotes on the incredible misfortune Katrina wrought. But it also embodies the spirit of the people who rose from the floodwaters and dared to plant seeds of hope in the sugarcane fields."
(Southern Living Magazine 2007-08-01)

"A slender but appealing book...[about] a remarkable teacher named Paul Reynaud, the sort of person who has a gift for understanding children's wants and needs..."
(Charles McGrath The New York Times Education Supplement 2007-07-29)

"[Tisserand's] 'Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember' is that seemingly impossible thing -- a gentle, hopeful tale about the displaced and the small Cajun town where they landed...It's an Oprah-worthy story sure to resonate with young urban parents...Quiet and powerful."
(The Oregonian 2007-08-19)

"Heartwarming...The story of Sugarcane Academy is as inspiring as it is moving and sometimes sad, and as much a reflection on the resilience of children and dedicated teachers as it is on the hardships faced by everyone displaced by the storm."

(Times Picayne (New Orleans) 2007-07-08)

About the Author

MICHAEL TISSERAND is the author of The Kingdom of Zydeco, which won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music writing. He served as editor of Gambit Weekly, the alternative newsweekly of New Orleans. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.

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Customer Reviews

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I read it all night long in one sitting.
L. Beatty
Everyone should read it to see how Hurricane Katrina affected the children whose homes and schools were damaged or destroyed.
Patricia R. Johnson
It tells an intimate, nuanced, and unfamiliar story of a very familiar tragedy.
Erica

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erica on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Idly thumbing through the stacks at my local indy the other day, I stumbled across this little gem. Initially the New Orleans and Katrina related subject matter drew me in. As much as has been said, there is still so much more that hasn't. An almost endless litany of stories both sorrowful and uplifting spill continuously from the flood waters all over this country.

Oddly, I wasn't sure if the theme of education, and the power it bestows to rise above, would indeed hold my attention. It's a reality, sure, but is it engaging?

Uh huh.

This story is *both* sorrowful *and* uplifting. It's spare. It's real. It tells an intimate, nuanced, and unfamiliar story of a very familiar tragedy. Maybe you didn't live in the Ninth Ward or St. Bernard Parish, but what if it was still your city? Maybe you got out, your house damaged, but not destroyed. Maybe there was somewhere to go. Someone with whom to stay.

Living in New Orleans, that could've been my situation, or that of those I care for. Not utter ruin. Not the heartrending images you saw on television every night, but devastation nonetheless. Lost jobs, lost lives, lost children. How do you help them find center, when you've lost your own? How do you explain the pulse of suffering on TV, the radio, papers when it all represents the people and places you loved?

This isn't just a story about a school. It's a story about selfless care, survival, and a community's ability to rise above with aide of, and nurture for the resiliency of youth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Beatty on June 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am from New Orleans and a friend handed me this book. "Thought you might like it." I read it all night long in one sitting. It's a sad, scary, exhilarating, thoughtful, dramatic, uplifting book. I am sure I can come up with more adjectives if pressed. The story is a first-person account of evacuating Hurricane Katrina; realizing home is gone and the magnificent educator who kept a community united. Any parent, teacher and/or New Orleanian should read this splendid tale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By preferredshares on September 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Great teachers can contribute so much to society and yet literature too rarely captures and celebrates this form of greatness. Katrina was a terrible storm with terrible consequences, which will be with us for decades, and yet here emerges a story that gives hope and inspiration. Without this tragedy and this book about one facet of the complicated story, we would not have seen into the world of these children and thier wonderful teacher, Paul Reynaud. We would not have had this privilege to see this example of greatness in education--without Paul, these children would not have had as vivid, life-improving, memories and lessons. "Celebrate that which you want to see more of" is a favorite adage which the author does an excellent job of fulfilling. Michael Tisserand shows, from the inside, dozens of enjoyable vignettes with subtle and not so subtle consequences. As so many schools are failing our children, here is an example of success which i believe you will enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on August 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Most of us, American or otherwise, can never forget the shock and growing horror at the scenes of total devastation when the levees burst in New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina had initially seemed to have left the city relatively unscathed. The atmosphere of chaos, lawlessness and anarchy that so quickly enveloped the ruined city was widely reported on. But most of us have no idea what it was like on an individual level, for those thousands of ordinary families and households whose lives were changed forever by this event.

Sugarcane Academy goes some way towards addressing this lack. In a simple, undramatic manner, Michael Tisserand tells the story of how he, his family, their circle of friends and their families, coped during and particularly after the storm.

The people involved in this account are a group of average middle-class families who were not even living in the worst-hit parts of New Orleans. However, the physical and psychological effects of the hurricane and its aftermath on them and on their children are very poignantly detailed in this book. The families, along with the unorthodox and talented teacher Paul Reynaud, establish a temporary `school in exile' for their children that helps to carry them all through the trauma of the first few months after Katrina. The school, nicknamed `Sugarcane Academy' because of the sugarcane fields near its first location in New Iberia, becomes a cathartic experience for all concerned, and through its activities and field trips, the children are enabled to work through the loss and upset that has turned their lives upside down.

This book tells a compelling story, and in its focus on children, gives an unusual insight into the effect of tragedies like Katrina on children, and their means of dealing with such events.
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