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Blizzard Hardcover – November 1, 2000
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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 Franklin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Overall, I must say that this is a very good book. The author did a great job of bringing the story of the storm to life, and really showing the human cost of what happened. It’s a great look into the times and the people, the events and the results – and all in a mere 144 pages! I think that it’s great!
I greatly enjoyed reading this entertaining and informative history. The first-hand accounts make the story come to life and I learned a lot about 1880s New York and the surrounding areas. Older kids will enjoy looking through this book which has great photographs, tales of adventure and bravery, and interesting historical detail. It's a fun-to-read, well-researched history that adults and kids will both enjoy.
Murphy details the development of the 1888 blizzard via a combination of two storms and the awe-inspiring impact it had on America - basically it shut down the East Coast! Cities and towns were buried under four feet of snow. Visibility was often zero; temps were below zero and made worse by the 40-60 mph winds. Trains were stuck in drifts; telegraph wires were down; etc. At least 400 people died.
Murphy follows different men, women and children in various East Coast locations and how they coped with the storm, which looped back and struck the East Coast a second time after its initial run-through! Some survived; some died; one lost his hands and feet to frostbite. Additionally, Murphy uses vintage photographs and his own evocative drawings to capture the storm's impact.
As fascinating as the story of the storm was, its impact, as documented by Murphy, was just as interesting. So many changes in weather reporting, laws, regulations, etc. resulted from this wake up call from Mother Nature, it's truly amazing.
So, whatever your age, I think you'll enjoy and learn from BLIZZARD! I know I did. Recommended.
This is a well-written, and interesting book. Authentic photographs are included, which enchance the narrative. Jim Murphy is an outstanding writer of Young Adult nonfiction. The events of the "great blizzard" come to life in this book.