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Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—A boy's visit to meet his great-grandmother for the first time turns into a nightmare when Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. Twelve-year-old Zane has not known many family members other than his mother; after she makes contact with his deceased father's grandmother, Zane travels to the oppressively humid city. When New Orleans is placed under a mandatory evacuation, Zane and his great-grandmother leave with his dog, Bandy, and her pastor; when Bandy is spooked by growling Dobermans, he leaps from the car, followed by Zane. Zane and Bandy endure the hurricane's landfall and the failure of the levees at his great-grandmother's house until they meet a young girl, Malvina, and her guardian, Tru. The trio canoes through the snake-infested waters seeking assistance. Arriving in a neighborhood protected by privately hired security forces leads to vicious threats from the armed guards, who are loading helicopters stuffed with rugs and other expensive items. After their canoe is stolen, they head to the chaos of the Superdome and eventually to a bridge connecting the city to Algiers, in which they hope to find Tru's cousin. Vivid descriptions of the toxic waters, the commotion at the Superdome, and racial tension are handled factually yet sensitively. Information about unique New Orleans customs, including "jazz funerals," its history of biracialism, and accents are occasionally inserted. The fast bond among Zane, Malvina, and Tru is believably drawn. A time line and facts about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath are included.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
Thirteen-year-old Zane Dupree and his trusted dog, Bandy, travel from their home in New Hampshire to New Orleans to visit his great-grandmother, Miss Trissy, the only link to the father who died before he was born. But almost as soon as they arrive, they are caught up in the turmoil of Hurricane Katrina, separated from family, and left on their own to survive. The pair weathers the storm in Miss Trissy’s attic, and they are rescued, via canoe, by Mr. Tru, a celebrated brass player, and his young charge, Malvina, with a story of her own. Together they face difficulties both natural and human, from terrifying swirls of snakes in the putrid floodwater to organized militia “protecting” affluent neighborhoods from looters. Philbrick examines issues of race and class with a deft hand (Zane is of mixed race himself), letting the story unfold directly and leaving moralizing to the reader. Though the convenience of a few plot points strains credibility, the tight prose, harrowing pace, and resonant relationships will appeal to a broad audience. Grades 5-8. --Thom Barthelmess
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