Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen Renee Watson - Shadra Strickland

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson illus. by Shadra Strickland
This is the story of four friends, Adrienne, Keesha, Micheal and Tommy, who live on the same New Orleans street.

I thought the first picture book that dealt with hurricane Katrina would focus on the hurricane. I am glad I was wrong, I like this much better.
The reader gets to know the four friends and their community before Katrina . The connection will stay long after the hurricane is gone, as the friends and their community are coming back together.

Waston's free verse is beautiful she makes the four friends as real as they can be. Strickland helps to bring the friends, the storm and New Orleans alive with her illustrations. Watson and Strickland have come together to create a lovely picture book.

Cars are turned upside down
and the street sign is floating in the water
Daddy tells us to get to the attic
as fast as we can
I take Jasmine's hand and I hold it tight.
like big brothers do.
She's too scared to look out the window
but I'm not

I look out the window
and I see the whole block swimming in water
Furniture, clothes and toys are swirling in the flood
Roofs are crumbling and windows are shattering
Big winds have come and trees are breaking
And all I can see is more water rising
So I look away and I squeeze Jasmine's hand
real tight because now I am scared too.

I probably should not have shared the whole verse, (but I love it) I also know the text without the illustrations is only half the story. You definitely want to see whole picture, its gorgeous and filled with emotion. This is one of those picture books, that I appreciate more each time I look at it. And I can't stop looking.

A Place Where Hurricane Happens comes out on June 22. Watson and Strickland were kind enough to answer a few questions about the book. I will be posting the interview on Tuesday, release day.

Also Watson will be doing her first booksigning on June 24 @ A Children's Place Bookstore in Portland, Or . So if you are thinking about getting the book, you may want to check them out.

A signed, first edition debut, would be very sweet indeed.

Three professional reviews via Strickland's blog

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