Rodman Philbrick (Freak the Mighty) portrays the unlikely friendship Zane Dupree forms with Malvina Rawlins and her guardian, Truedell Manning, as they're thrown together in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
Zane leaves the idyllic summer setting of his native New Hampshire on a mission his mother has concocted for Zane to get to know his paternal great-grandmother, Miss Trissy. Zane's father died before his son was born, and Zane is Miss Trissy's only living relative. The two get on famously from the first, but hardly have time to get to know each other before the mayor is calling for everyone to evacuate New Orleans. Miss Trissy, Zane and Zane's beloved dog, Bandy, join her preacher's van. But when Bandy gets a fright and exits through a van window, Zane trails him--straight back to Miss Trissy's house in the Ninth Ward. High adventure follows, as Zane and Bandy try to stay above water, hitch a canoe ride with Malvina and jazz musician Tru, and search for dry high ground. Through Zane's eyes, Philbrick shows readers the complicated race relations in New Orleans, the economic strata, the horror of the Superdome ("shelter of last resort," as the mayor calls it), leavened by lighter moments, such as jazz funerals and Malvina's silly jokes.
It's a long way for this trio of humans and one devoted dog to make it to safety, but Philbrick takes readers through the storm, into the eye of Katrina and back out again. This will be read in one sitting. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness