A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zane and the Hurricane: A Tale of Katrina, by Newbery Honor-winning author Rodman Philbrick, uses the narratives of many Hurricane Katrina survivors as the foundation of the harrowing, inspiring tale of a 12-year-old New Hampshire boy and his beloved dog who get caught up in the disaster. Reflecting real-life events, Zane encounters many dangers, from the floodwaters to gun-toting vigilantes to the local drug lord, but also finds love, kindness, and friendship in the most unexpected places. One character's mother is always in rehab, and drugs are not presented positively (no drug use is shown). The story does have some scary scenes (including snakes in the flood and the local drug lord trying to kidnap Zane's friend), and raises provocative issues, from race to complete infrastructure collapse, that affected the people caught up in the disaster. There's no strong language or sexual content.
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old New Hampshire boy Zane Dupree never knew his African-American father, who died in an accident before he was born, and his mom has never been able to find any of his paternal relatives. That all changes thanks to a website that connects them with his great-grandmother in New Orleans, who had raised his dad back in the day. He reluctantly agrees to spend the last week of summer with her in New Orleans, but only if his beloved dog Bandy gets to come along. Unbeknownst to any of them, Hurricane Katrina's bearing down on the city, and Zane's barely had a chance to get acquainted with Miss Trissy before they have to flee for their lives with her pastor in the church van. When a terrified Bandy leaps out the window, Zane instinctively goes after him, and soon the two are trapped in Miss Trissy's house as the floodwaters rise.
Is it any good?
In ZANE AND THE HURRICANE: A STORY OF KATRINA, author Rodman Philbrick follows his successful formula of placing an appealingly real young character in the midst of momentous events. While the story is fast-paced and full of peril, it's also packed with local culture, from music and jazz funerals to complex racial history. Zane's adventures, drawn from real-life experiences of Katrina survivors -- from raw sewage and dead bodies everywhere to cops and vigilantes shooting on sight -- may provoke some interesting discussion of why things came to such a pass, and why much of the city remained in dire straits years later.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about disaster preparedness. What kinds of natural disasters are likely in your area? Does your family have a disaster plan -- and a backup if things don't go according to plan?
Why do you think disasters are such a popular theme in stories? What other disaster stories do you know about, and how does this one compare?
What do you know about Hurricane Katrina? Do you know any people who survived the disaster? What were their experiences?
- Author: Rodman Philbrick
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Blue Sky Press
- Publication date: February 25, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
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