- Saint Louis Armstrong Beach
Saint Louis Armstrong Beach is a seventh-grade prodigy, playing his clarinet for tourists in the Quarter in New Orleans to make money for his first goal, a new clarinet, and his ultimate one, Juilliard. He’s well known around the neighborhood, [End Page 119] and he has a special interest in the neighborhood dog, Shadow, even though his father won’t let him claim Shadow as his own. As Hurricane Katrina develops in strength and changes its course, he and his dad, along with other men in the neighborhood, board up windows and prepare for evacuation, but old Miz Moran hides from her daughter when it’s time to go. Saint is supposed to go with his uncle to Baton Rouge, but he insists on taking Shadow, and when the dog runs away, so does Saint. He ends up with Shadow at Miz Moran’s house, where they hole up in the attic as the storm rages and Miz Moran’s forgotten her insulin. This will obviously beg comparison with Jewell Parke Rhodes’s Ninth Ward (BCCB 10/10), where another gifted child ends up in an attic with an elderly woman in need of medical attention and gets help from a supernatural source. Ultimately, both books are solid reads that feature likable protagonists with distinctive, readable voices, and emphasize the importance of faith, community, and resilience. Pair them to help young readers imagine what it must have been like for survivors before, during, and after one of the deadliest hurricanes in American history.