Summary and book reviews of Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick

Zane and the Hurricane

A Story of Katrina

By Rodman Philbrick

Zane and the Hurricane
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    Readers' Opinion:

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  • Hardcover: Feb 2014,
    192 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie

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About this Book

Book Summary

Zane Dupree is a charismatic 12-year-old boy of mixed race visiting a relative in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hits. Unexpectedly separated from all family, Zane and his dog experience the terror of Katrina's wind, rain, and horrific flooding. Facing death, they are rescued from an attic air vent by a kind, elderly musician and a scrappy young girl - both African American.

The chaos that ensues as storm water drowns the city, shelter and food vanish, and police contribute to a dangerous, frightening atmosphere, creates a page-turning tale that completely engrosses the reader. Based on the facts of the worst hurricane disaster in U.S. history, Philbrick includes the lawlessness and lack of government support during the disaster as well as the generosity and courage of those who risked their lives and safety to help others.

Here is an unforgettable novel of heroism in the face of truly challenging circumstances.

1.
My Stupid Trip to Smellyville

Bandy is a mutt like me. He's black and white and small enough to hide in a gym bag, except he can't keep from barking hi-hi-hi with his silly tongue hanging out and his little tail sticking up. Bandy, short for Bandit, because of the black marking across his eyes and nose. Don't get me wrong, he's the best dog in the world, and what happened wasn't really his fault, even if it nearly got me killed two times. Three if you count the tippy canoe. Later on he made up for it by totally saving my life. Of course none of it would have happened if my mom didn't make me visit the golden oldies in Smellyville, which is what I called New Orleans before I knew better. Before the wind and the rain and the flood, and me having to pretend I was brave, even though inside I was scared to death.

My name is Zane Dupree. I need to warn you right now, there's some really gross stuff in this book, and I'm not talking about make-...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
FAMILY
  1. Define family from the points of view of Zane, Malvina, and Mr. Trudell Manning.
  2. Describe Zane's relationship with his mother.
  3. Why was his mother so determined for him to meet his father's relative?
  4. Discuss Zane's thought that "you can't miss someone you never knew."
  5. Why didn't Miss Trissy tell Zane the reason his father ran away from home?
  6. How did her silence make Zane more curious about his dad?
  7. Explain why Tru thought a boy should know about his daddy.
  8. How did Zane's idea about family change by the end of the novel?


SURVIVAL
  1. Explain why putting more effort in gym class may have benefitted Zane when he was struggling to survive against the rising water.
  2. Why was the Superdome the ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

[The characters'] struggles keep you on the edge of your seat, which makes for a very quick read, and it is easy to care about what happens to them. I appreciate that Philbrick illustrates how some people automatically decide to collaborate with each other, while others seem controlled by fear and panic. In this way, his writing feels true and gives kids a taste for some of the deeper issues at hand, though they are never really discussed.   (Reviewed by Elena Spagnolie).

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Media Reviews
School Library Journal

Vivid descriptions of the toxic waters, the commotion at the Superdome, and racial tension are handled factually yet sensitively. Information about unique New Orleans customs, including "jazz funerals," its history of biracialism, and accents are occasionally inserted. The fast bond among Zane, Malvina, and Tru is believably drawn.

Booklist

Though the convenience of a few plot points strains credibility, the tight prose, harrowing pace, and resonant relationships will appeal to a broad audience. Grades 5-8.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. [Philbrick] vividly portrays the destruction and multitude of threats facing citizens stuck in the city, along with undercurrents of racial and social tension that didn't wash away with the levees. Ages 10–14.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. This compelling story of Katrina is like the floodwaters it describes: quickly moving, sometimes treacherous and sometimes forgiving, with a lot going on beneath the surface.

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Hurricane Katrina and the Danziger Bridge Incident

After Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees failed, approximately 80% of New Orleans was under water. Sewage was everywhere, swollen dead bodies floated in the water and lined the streets, the heat was stifling, and – after a few days – it became clear that help was in no hurry to get there. Out of desperation to find food, water, medicine, and sanitary conditions, some people – like Malvina, Zane, and Tru in Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick – decided to walk over the bridges and cross the Mississippi River into areas that seemed safer.

Before they reached higher ground, however, many discovered that armed police had created blockades and were not allowing anyone to cross over.

Danziger BridgeIn the days just after ...

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