This gripping addition to the growing body of fiction portraying Katrina's profound effect on children and families pits an 11-year-old boy, a neighborhood dog and an elderly woman against the hurricane and subsequent devastating flood.
Narrator Saint is a gifted clarinetist with Juilliard dreams and a soft spot for Shadow, a black Lab mix he longs to fully claim. Families flee TremÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â©, but Saint's mom, a dedicated hospital social worker, toils overtime as Katrina homes in. Pops arranges for Saint to evacuate with Uncle Hugo's family, but Shadowâ€”to Saint's tearful dismayâ€”runs off. Shadow's pivotal in the plotting, as Saint slips back into town to find him. Fate tosses boy and dog in with stubborn neighbor Miz Moran, who's evaded her own relatives in order to remain at home. Their attic confinement is a study in contrasts: The woman's good planning yields battery-operated fans and freeze-dried ice cream, but unplanned-for issues include her worsening health and dog poop. Saint bests the flooded house to retrieve Miz Moran's insulin; the lady's casual admission that her three heart attacks "was mild ones" ratchets tension. Woods' marvelous characterizations of Saint and Miz Moran more than stand up to the vivid backdrop of the flooded, chaotic city. Shadow's credulity-straining heroics will please kids.ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â A small gem that sparkles with hope, resilience and the Crescent City's unique, jazz-infused spirit. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Set in New Orleans during the week leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, Woods's novel introduces Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, an 11-year-old resident of the city's Tremé neighborhood. Named after both his grandfather and the jazz musician, Saint (an accomplished clarinet player, not a trumpeter) has a "mostly good" life before the storm, with close ties to his parents and his tight-knit community, including a neighborhood dog, Shadow. When evacuation of the city becomes mandatory, Saint is supposed to leave town with his extended family, but he returns to his neighborhood to search for Shadow and winds up caring for his diabetic elderly neighbor, Miz Moran, as the levees break and the streets flood. While Woods (A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) concludes on a realistically uncertain note, the contrivances that allow for the book's perhaps too-happy ending (including a dream sequence and some unlikely efforts on Shadow's part) shield readers from the more devastating realities of the disaster. Still, Saint is an easy protagonist to love, and his reunion with his parents remains gratifying. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
Gr 4-7--Saint Louis Armstrong Beach is an 11-year-old, clarinet-playing resident of Tremé, a neighborhood near the French Quarter in New Orleans. As Saint saves up his street-performing tips for a new clarinet and tries to make sense of his broken relationship with his former best friend, a catastrophic storm gathers. Saint is forced to evacuate the city, but decides to turn back in search of the neighborhood stray dog. He ends up heading right into the path of Hurricane Katrina. With his engaging voice, readers will quickly take a shine to Saint. The dialogue is strong, smooth, and natural. The food, music, and tempo of New Orleans all come to life, told with an efficiency that keeps interest high. The conclusion is a bit abrupt, however, leaving some loose ends. Woods skillfully provides a sense of the growing tension as the storm approaches. The real-life events of Hurricane Katrina--the evacuation, the levees failing, the Superdome-- are integrated smoothly into the story. While the tragedy of the event is not glossed over, the overall theme is one of hope.--Travis Jonker, Dorr Elementary School, MI[Page 152]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.