What better time to review a book about a hurricane than during a hurricane, no? Here in the Triangle region of NC where I live we were fortunate to be spared the strongest effects of Hurricane Florence, but some of our neighbors in cities like New Bern were not as lucky and had to be rescued from rooftops. Some communities in North Carolina continue to need extra assistance due to the storm.
My favorite moment in Kate Messner’s Hurricane Katrina Rescue (Ranger in Time #8),(2018, 160 pages) is when main character Clare, who has been through so much hardship by this point, finally reaches high, dry ground and can save herself. Instead, she points her canoe back to the flood-ravaged neighborhoods to rescue more people. The word agency keeps coming to my mind in relation to Clare. Clare took matters into her own hands and acted. As a woman in this video about Hurricane Katrina said, “I realized I was gonna be the help”. Or, as poet June Jordan and perhaps others before her stated, We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Clare had her doubts at times, and cried at times, but she got the job done. This girl had agency, buckets of it, and is a great heroine for young readers to admire.
Summary from Goodreads:
Ranger, the time-traveling golden retriever with search-and-rescue training, arrives in New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches and residents start to evacuate the city. Ranger meets Clare Porter, who is searching for her grandmother. Once Ranger helps Clare find Nana, he takes shelter with them at their home in the Lower Ninth Ward, and they wait for Clare’s father to return from the gas station. But there’s no sign of him as hours pass and the weather gets worse. The wind picks up and rain pours down. And when the levees break, floodwaters dangerously rise, and Clare and Nana are separated. Can Ranger help Clare navigate the flooded streets to safety and back to her family?
Truly, the suspense in this story is nonstop. Being stuck in a stuffy attic, and trying not to slide off a slanted roof are described so vividly by Messner. I love how Ranger is scared by the smell of the water surrounding the houses because of all the chemicals in it so young readers understand this was not water in which you would want to swim. Of course, as in all the other books in this series, Ranger is a comforting presence. And in this story as in the first seven, he assists with just a few different tasks in a way that, while far exceeding the abilities of my own dog, is believable. There were so many details I loved about this story: a grandmother who plays basketball in a league for senior women, and a female rescue swimmer to name a couple.
I have reviewed the previous seven Ranger books and heartily recommend them all. (There are links in this post.) Messner always includes an Author’s Note at the back of each book. Unlike a lot of Authors’ Notes that are dry and boring, Messner’s are interesting and lend context to her stories. You won’t want to skip them. I especially like how she noted the fact in the Author’s Note for this book that although there was a mandatory evacuation order in effect before Katrina, many people couldn’t leave because they had elderly or sick relatives who could not be moved, or they didn’t have a car or the money to leave. She also addresses the racism in the aftermath of Katrina.
Give this book to any third to fifth grader. In addition to being an action-packed story with a great heroine, it has warm illustrations and is priced right. And who among us couldn’t use a little more time-travelling golden retriever magic in their life? 🙂
There have been many changes in my life over the past few months. I never meant to abandon my blog for the whole summer, but that’s what happened. Going forward, I hope to do at least one post a month.
For more middle grade book reviews, follow the links at Greg Pattridge’s blog Always in the Middle.