Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen

Renee Watson
Illustrator:  Shadra Strickland 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Random House , 2010   ISBN: 978-0375856099

Adrienne, Keesha, Michael, and Tommy live in the city of New Orleans, “a place where hurricanes happen.” For the most part the children don’t think about hurricanes at all. The play hide-and-go-seek, they ride their bikes, they take care of siblings, and they are a part of their community. The friends have known one another for years, and they cannot imagine that their happy lives could ever change.

Then the grownups tell the children that a storm is coming. It is hard to imagine that a storm is on its way because “The sky don’t look gray at all.” All the same, windows a boarded up, and Tommy’s family pack up so that they can stay with some relatives in Houston. Adrienne’s family drive to Baton Rouge, but Michael and Keesha and their families stay in New Orleans, and they experience Hurricane Katrina first hand. They soon realize that nothing is going to be the same, and they worry that they will never see their friends again because “Things aren’t what they used to be.”

Using the alternating voices of the four main characters, Renee Watson tells the story of Hurricane Katrina through the eyes of children whose lives are turned upside down by the terrible hurricane. Young readers will understand on a very personal level how the tragedy affected the children, and they will appreciate the determination and courage of the people of New Orleans, “a place where people are tough.”