Reviewed by Laura Madsen, Mom, Veterinarian, and Writer
Written by Myron Uhlberg and illustrated by Colin Bootman, this picture book tells the story of a young boy in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The boy, named Louis after the famous jazz musician Louis Armstrong, evacuates his home with his parents and his treasured trumpet. After wading through the flood waters and being denied a ride on a boat, Louis and his parents end up at the Superdome. Louis is threatened by grown men for his water bottle, and he and his mom get separated from his dad. Louis plays his trumpet in a ray of sunlight streaming through the broken dome roof, enabling his dad to find them. After reuniting, the family returns home.
The story is very powerful. Louis’s emotions are raw in his first-person narration, as in this passage:
The murky brown water rose so high Daddy had to climb up on the porch boat with Mama and me. That was when my broom hit a pile of clothes. Mama covered my eyes. “Don’t look, Baby,” she said. But I couldn’t help looking.
Although this is a picture book, it is not for younger children. Because of the story’s heavy themes, it is probably most appropriate for kids in elementary school. I read it aloud to my six- and eight-year-old kids, and choked up several times while reading.
Market: children’s picture book
Adult themes: natural disaster, death, breakdown of society’s rules after a disaster