Reviews are coming in!

We’ve had three great reviews for A PLACE WHERE HURRICANES HAPPEN. I am always a bit nervous for reviews. One never knows how a book will be received, especially those that deal with heavier social issues. The goal is to deliver the story accurately, but retain the elements of childhood that make the story real for children. From these three reviews, it looks like Renée and I are on track! Thank you to all of the reviewers for spreading the word~

Publishers Weekly (May 31, 2010)
Strickland’s (Bird) quietly powerful watercolors make this story of four fictional Ninth Ward children caught in Hurricane Katrina especially affecting. As firsttime author Watson moves among the perspectives of the children–Adrienne, Michael, Keesha, and Tommy–Strickland presents scenes of everyday life, the fearsomeness of the storm itself (a wordless spread shows blocks of tidy houses up to their roofs in water), the wreckage, and the rebuilding. Before Katrina, the children play hide-and-seek and ride their bicycles together. They know Katrina is coming, but expect little harm: “The sky don’t look gray at all./ Seems like the sun is gonna shine forever,” says Adrienne. Some relocate, some remain, though the children are reunited in a homecoming that brings muted joy; some of their neighbors are gone forever. But Katrina is not all there is of New Orleans, and when they gather in their much-changed neighborhood a year later, they agree: “We’re from New Orleans,/ a place where hurricanes happen./ But that’s only the bad side.” In the same way, although Watson’s story delivers some difficult emotional blows, it has plenty of sweetness, too. Ages 7–10. (June)

Booklist Reviews (May 15, 2010)
Like Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Ninth Ward (2010), Watson’s debut picture book for older readers tells the story of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath for a young audience. In free verse, four young friends on a New Orleans street speak in alternating voices about the storm. First there is the fun they have together in the neighborhood, then the tension and terror as the hurricane comes nearer and hits the city, and then finally the devastation that follows. Tommy’s family leaves town. Adrienne is leaving for Baton Rouge. Keesha waits five days at the Superdome for a bus and then, later, lives in a trailer outside her broken home. From an attic window, Michael and his sister watch their whole block disappear underwater. Both the words and pictures personalize the events. What was it like to be caught in the storm, to return to a neighborhood that you barely recognize, to find your friends again? In vibrant, mixed-media images, award-winning illustrator Strickland extends the drama, feeling, and individual stories.

Kirkus Reviews (May 1, 2010)
“We’re from New Orleans, a place where hurricanes happen.” Four friends, who live on the same street and play together every day, describe in alternating first-person voices (with gentle, appropriate dialect) how Hurricane Katrina flooded their lives. As Adrienne, Michael, Keesha and Tommy express their feelings and describe the reactions of their families, readers will sense the community spirit and the resilience of the people of New Orleans. Two of the children evacuate with their families while the others remain, providing a snapshot of representative experiences. From traffic snarls to lengthy lines waiting for buses to losing a teddy-bear collection, the combination of the free verse and Strickland’s mixed-media illustrations realistically convey and personalize the effects of the disaster, all the while keeping the book age-appropriate. The characters are fictional, but the impact of the hurricane on people’s lives is real as conveyed through these children’s eyes. (Picture book. 7-10)