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Publisher: Shooting Star Editions, American Literary Press,
Summary: All of the animals in the neighborhood were excited. Mango, a Quaker parrot, had promised she'd tell them the story of the big storm and today was the day. Mango told her friends about how the big hurricane was coming, and that her owners had to leave her behind. Animal rescuers became her foster family until her owners could return to New Orleans. This is a picture book with near-chapter book length that describes Hurricane Katrina from a parrot's perspective.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 10; read yourself: 8 to 10
Interest Level: 6 to 9
Age of Child: Read with 5½-year-old child.
Young Reader Reaction: Our child, who always loves animal stories, never made it past the first few pages. S/He didn't like the pictures and said the story was too confusing.
Adult Reader Reaction: While the story offers a second grader an opportunity for reading practice, the story gets too detailed. There are lots of words crammed together in the middle of the page. We read chapter books with our child, so it wasn't a matter of having lots to read, it just wasn't a grabber.
Pros: The story offers a straight-forward presentation of the impact of Hurricane Katrina without overstating or "glorifying" the event that struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Using a pet as a protagonist makes it easier for kids in the target audience to understand. There is a lot of vocabulary repetition, and short sentences making this suitable for children who are learning to read.
Cons: Every paragraph is in quotes. While it may be the "right" way to present the text, there are long paragraphs of dialogue with sub-dialogue, too. The story is more sophisticated than the illustrations. Photos might have been better.
Borrow or Buy: Skip it. There are some great stories that talk about recovering from major events (including Katrina) with a more positive, simple presentation.
Educational Themes: The publisher says the book is intended to show how all things heal with time. While this is true when it comes to making new friends, the issue of some animals' owners never coming to get them is left hanging.
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, US history, weather, animals